Skip to main content

Full text of "The writings of Mrs. Humphry Ward"

See other formats

OTcfiftmorclanD Coition 



He turned and saw Mary Batchelor 







Btoewtte flreaa 









From an original drawing by Archibald Standish Hart- 
rick. (Page 195.) 

MRS. WARD IN 1888 20 

From a photograph by Elliott & Fry, London. 


No. 17, Bradmore Road, where Mrs. Ward resided from 
1872 to 1881. 


' Presently through a little wood we came upon a pond 
lying wide and blue before us under the breezy May 
sky, its shores fringed with scented fir-wood and the 
whole air alive with birds.' 


' On Sunday the river is forsaken, and they were the 
only adventurers on its blue expanse.' 


'The shade lay deep and green on the still water, 
spanned by a rustic bridge, and broken every now and 
then by the stately whiteness of the swans.' From a 
photograph by Hills & Saunders, Oxford. 

All of the illustrations in this volume are photogravures, and 
except where otherwise stated, are from photographs taken espe- 
cially for this edition. 



HULLO! Are you come back?' 

The speaker was George Tressady. He was de- 
scending the steps of his club in Pall Mall, and found 
his arm caught by Naseby, who had just dismissed his 
hansom outside. 

' I came back last night. Are you going homewards? 
I'll walk across the Square with you/ 

The two men turned into St. James's Square, and 
Naseby resumed : 

'Yes, we had a most lively campaign. Maxwell 
spoke better than I ever heard him/ 

'The speeches have been excellent reading, too. 
And you had good meetings?' 

'Splendid! The country is rallying, I can tell you. 
The North is now strong for Maxwell and the Bill 
or seems to be.' 

'Just as we are going to kick it out in the House! 
It's very queer for no one could tell, a month ago, 
how the big towns were going. And it looked as 
though London even were deserting them.' 

'A mere wave, I think. At least, I'll bet you any- 
thing they'll win this Stepney election. Shall we get 
the division on the hours clause to-morrow?' 

'They say so/ 

'If you know your own interests, you'll hurry up/ 


said Naseby, smiling. 'The country is going against 

'I imagine Fontenoy has got his eye on the coun- 
try! He's been letting the Socialists talk nonsense 
till now to frighten the steady-going old fellows on the 
other side or putting up our men to mark time. But 
I saw yesterday there was a change/ 

' Between ourselves, has n't he been talking a good 
deal of nonsense on his own account?' 

Naseby threw a glance of laughing inquiry at his 
companion. George shrugged his shoulders in silence. 
It had become matter of public remark during the 
last few days that Fontenoy was beginning at last to 
show the strain of the combat that his speeches 
were growing hysterical and his rule a tryanny. His 
most trusted followers were now to be heard grumb- 
ling in private over certain aspects of his bearing in 
the House. He had come into damaging collision 
with the Speaker on one or two occasions, and had 
made here and there a blunder in tactics which seemed 
to show a weakening of self-command. Tressady, 
indeed, knew enough to wonder that the man's nerve 
and coolness had maintained themselves in their ful- 
ness so long. 

'So Maxwell took a party to the North?' said 
George, dropping the subject of Fontenoy. 

' Lady Maxwell, of course myself, Bennett, and 
Madeleine Penley. It was a pleasure to see Lady 
Maxwell. She has been dreadfully depressed in town 
lately. But those trade-union meetings in Lancashire 
and Yorkshire were magnificent enough to cheer any 
one up/ 

[ 2 ] 


George shook his head. 

'I expect they come too late to save the Bill.' 

'I dare say. Well, one can't help being tremend- 
ously sorry for her. I thought her looking quite thin 
and ill over it. It makes one doubt about women in 
politics! Maxwell will take it a deal more calmly, 
unless one misunderstands his cool ways. But I 
should n't wonder if she had a breakdown/ 

George made no reply. Naseby talked a little more 
about Maxwell and the tour, the critical side of him 
gaining upon the sympathetic with every sentence. 
At the corner of King Street he stopped. 

'I must go back to the club. By the way, have 
you heard anything of Ancoats lately?' 

George made a face. 

'I saw him in a hansom last night, late, crossing 
Regent Circus with a young woman the young 
woman, to the best of my belief/ 

In the few moments' chat that followed, Tressady 
found that Naseby, like Fontenoy, regarded him as 
the new friend who might be able to do something for 
a wild fellow, now that mother and old friends were 
alike put aside and ignored. But, as he rather impa- 
tiently declared and was glad to declare such a 
view was mere nonsense. He had tried, for the mother's 
sake, and could do nothing. As for him, he believed 
the thing was very much a piece of blague 

'Which won't prevent it from taking him to the 
devil,' said Naseby, coolly; 'and his mother, by all 
accounts, will die of it. I 'm sorry for her. He seems 
to think tremendous things of you. I thought you 
might, perhaps, have knocked it out of him/ 

[ 3 ] 


George shook his head again, and they parted. 

In truth, Tressady was not particularly flattered 
by Ancoats's fancy for him. He did not care enough 
about the lad in return. Yet, in response to one or 
two outbreaks of talk on Ancoats's part talks full of 
a stagey railing at convention he had tried, for the 
mother's sake, to lecture the boy a little to get in 
a word or two that might strike home. But Ancoats 
had merely stared a moment out of his greenish eyes, 
had shaken his queer mane of hair, as an animal 
shakes off the hand that curbs it, had changed the 
subject at once, and departed. Tressady had seen 
very little of him since. 

And had not, in truth, taken it to heart. He had 
neither time nor mind to think about Ancoats. Now, 
as he walked home to dinner, he put the subject from 
him impatiently. His own moral predicament ab- 
sorbed him this weird, silent way in which the 
whole political scene was changing in aspect and 
composition under his eyes, was grouping itself for 
him round one figure one face. 

Had he any beliefs left about the Bill itself? He 
hardly knew. In truth it was not his reason that was 
leading him. It now was little more than a passionate 
boyish longing to wrench himself free from this odi- 
ous task of hurting and defeating Marcella Maxwell. 
The long process of political argument was perhaps 
tending every day to the loosening and detaching of 
those easy convictions of a young Chauvinism, that 
had drawn him originally to Fontenoy's side. In- 
tellectually he was all adrift. At the same time he 
confessed to himself, with perfect frankness, that 

[ 4 ] 


he could and would have served Fontenoy happily 
enough, but for another influence another voice. 

Yet his old loyalty to Fontenoy tugged sorely at 
his will. And with this loyalty of course was bound 
up the whole question of his own personal honour and 
fidelity his pledges to his constituents and his party. 

Was there no rational and legitimate way out? He 
pondered the political situation as he walked along 
with great coolness and precision. When the division 
on the hours clause was over the main struggle on the 
Bill, as he had all along maintained, would be also at 
an end. If the Government carried the clause and 
the probability still was that they would carry it by 
a handful of votes the two great novelties of the 
Bill would have been affirmed by the House. The 
homework in the scheduled trades would have been 
driven by law into inspected workshops, and the male 
workers in these same trades would have been brought 
under the time-restrictions of the Factory Acts. 

Compared to these two great reforms, or revolu- 
tions, the remaining clause the landlords clause 
touched, as he had already said to Fontenoy, ques- 
tions of secondary rank, of mere machinery. Might 
not a man thereupon might not he, George Tres- 
sady review and reconsider his whole position? 

He had told Fontenoy that his vote was safe; but 
must that pledge extend to more than the vital stuff, 
the main proposals of the Bill? The hours clause? 
- yes. But after it? 

Fontenoy, no doubt, would carry on the fight to 
the bitter end, counting on a final and hard-wrung 
victory. The sanguine confidence which had pos- 

[ 5 ] 


sessed him about the time of the Second Reading was 
gone. He did not, Tressady knew, reckon with any 
certainty on turning out the Government in this 
coming division. The miserable majority with which 
they had carried the workshops clause would fall 
again it would hardly be altogether effaced. That 
final wiping-out would come if indeed it were at- 
tained in the last contest of all, to which Fontenoy 
was already heartening and urging on his followers. 

Fontenoy's position, of course, in the matter was 
clear. It was that of the leader and the irreconcileable. 

But for the private member, who had seen cause to 
modify some of his opinions during the course of de- 
bate, who had voted loyally with his party up till now 
might not the division on the hours clause be said 
to mark a new stage in the Bill a stage which re- 
stored him his freedom? 

The House would have pronounced on the main 
points of the Bill; the country was rallying in a re- 
markable and unexpected way to the Government - 
might it not be fairly argued that the war had been 
carried far enough? 

He already, indeed, saw signs of that backing-down 
of opposition which he had prophesied to Fontenoy. 
The key to the whole matter lay, he believed, in the 
hands of the Old Liberals, that remnant of a once 
great host, who were now charging the Conservative 
Government with new and damaging concessions to 
the Socialist tyranny. These men kept a watchful 
eye on the country; they had maintained all along 
that the country had not spoken. George had already 
perceived a certain weakening among them. And 

[ 6 ] 


now, this campaign of Maxwell's, this new enthusi- 
asm in the industrial North no doubt they would 
have their effect. 

He hurried on, closely weighing the whole matter, 
the prey to a strange and mingled excitement. 

Meanwhile the streets through which he walked 
had the empty, listless air which marks a stage from 
which the actors have departed. It was nearing the 
middle of August, and society had fled. 

All the same, as he reflected with a relief which 
was not without its sting, he and Letty would not be 
alone at dinner. Some political friends were coming, 
stranded, like themselves, in this West End, which had 
by now covered up its furniture and shut its shutters. 

What a number of smart invitations had been 
showering upon them during the last weeks of the 
season, and were now still pursuing them, for the 
country-house autumn ! The expansion of their social 
circle had of late often filled George with astonish- 
ment. No doubt, he said to himself, though with 
a curious doubtfulness, Letty was very successful ; 
still, the recent rush of attentions from big people, 
who had taken no notice of them on their marriage, 
was rather puzzling. It had affected her so far more 
than himself. For he had been hard-pressed by Par- 
liament and the strike, and she had gone about a good 
deal alone appearing, indeed, to prefer it. 

'Come out with me on the Terrace/ said Marcella 
to Betty Leven ; ' I had rather not wait here. Aldous, 
will you take us through?' 

She and Betty were standing in the inner lobby of 
[ 7 ] 


the House of Commons. The division had just been 
called and the galleries cleared. Members were still 
crowding into the House from the Library, the Ter- 
race, and the smoking-rooms ; and all the approaches 
to the Chamber itself were filled with a throng about 
equally divided between the eagerness of victory and 
the anxieties of defeat. 

Maxwell took the ladies to the Terrace, and left 
them there, while he himself went back to the House. 
Marcella took a seat by the parapet, leant both hands 
upon it, and looked absently at the river and the 
clouds. It was a cloudy August night, with a broken, 
fleecy sky, and gusts of hot wind from the river. A 
few figures and groups were moving about the Terrace 
in the flickering light and shade waiting like them- 

'Will you be very sad if it goes wrongly?' said 
Betty, in a low voice, as she took her friend's hand in 

'Yes- ' said Marcella, simply. Then, after a 
pause, she added, ' It will be all the harder after this 
time in the North. Everything will have come too 

There was a silence; then Betty said, not without 
sheepishness, 'Frank's all right.' 

Marcella smiled. She knew that little Betty had 
been much troubled by Frank's tempers of late, and 
had been haunted by some quite serious qualms about 
his loyalty to Maxwell and the Bill. Marcella had 
never shared them. Frank Leven had not grit enough 
to make a scandal and desert a chief. But Betty's 
ambition had forced the boy into a life that was not 

[ 8 1 


his; had divided him from the streams and fields, 
from the country gentleman's duties and pleasures, 
that were his natural sphere. In this hot town game 
of politics, this contest of brains and ambitions, he 
was out of place was, in fact, wasting both time 
and capacity. Betty would have to give way, or 
the comedy of a lovers' quarrel might grow to some- 
thing ill-matched with the young grace and mirth 
of such a pair of handsome children. 

Marcella meant to tell her friend all this in due 
time. Now she could only wait in silence, listening 
for every sound, Betty's soft fingers clasping her own, 
the wind as it blew from the bridge cooling her hot 

' Here they are ! ' said Betty. 

They turned to the open doorway of the House. A 
rush of feet and voices approached, and the various 
groups on the Terrace hurried to meet it. 

'Just saved! By George, what a squeak!' said a 
man's voice in the distance; and at the same moment 
Maxwell touched his wife on the shoulder. 

'A majority of ten ! Nobody knew how it had gone 
till the last moment.' 

She put up her face to him, leaning against him. 

'I suppose it means we can't pull through?' 

He bent to her. 

' I should think so. Darling, don't take it to heart 
so much ! ' 

In the darkness he felt the touch of her lips on his 
hand. Then she turned, with a white cheek and smil- 
ing mouth, to meet the greetings and rueful congratu- 
lations of the friends that were crowding about them. 

[ 9 1 


The Terrace was soon a moving mass of people, 
eagerly discussing the details of the division. The 
lamps, blown a little by the wind, threw uncertain 
lights on faces and figures, as they passed and re- 
passed between the mass of building on the one hand 
and the wavering darkness of the river on the other. 
To Marcella, as she stood talking to person after per- 
son talking she hardly knew what the whole 
scene was a dim bewilderment, whence emerged from 
time to time faces or movements of special significance. 

Now it was Dowson, the Home Secretary, advanc- 
ing to greet her, with his grey shaven face, eyelids 
somewhat drooped, and the cool, ambiguous look of 
one not quite certain of his reception. He had been 
for long a close ally of Maxwell's. Marcella had 
thought him a true friend. But certainly, in his con- 
duct of the Bill of late there had been a good deal to 
suggest the attitude of a man determined to secure 
himself a retreat, and uncertain how far to risk his 
personal fortunes on a doubtful issue. So that she 
found herself talking to him with a new formality, in 
the tone of those who have been friends, yet begin to 
foresee the time when they may be antagonists. 

Or, again, it was Fontenoy Fontenoy's great 
head and overhanging brows, thrown suddenly into 
light against the windy dusk. He was walking with 
a young viscount whose curls, clothes, and shoulders 
were alike unapproachable by the ordinary man. 
This youth could not forbear an exultant twitching 
of the lip as he passed the Maxwells. Fontenoy cere- 
moniously took off his hat. Marcella had a moment- 
ary impression of the passionate, bull-like force of the 

[ 10 ] 


man, before he disappeared into the crowd. His eye 
had wavered as it met hers. Out of courtesy to the 
woman he had tried not to look his triumph. 

And now it was quite another face thin, delicately 
marked, a noticeable chin, an outstretched hand. 

She was astonished by her own feeling of pleasure. 

'Tell me/ she said quickly, as she moved eagerly 
forward 'tell me! is it about what you expected?' 

They turned towards the river. George Tressady 
hung over the wall beside her. 

'Yes. I thought it might be anything from eight 
to twenty/ 

' I suppose Lord Fontenoy now thinks the end quite 

'He may. But the end is not certain!' 

'But what can prevent it! The despairing thing 
for us is, that if the country had been roused earlier, 
everything might have been different. But now the ; 
House ' 

' Has got out of hand? It may be ; but I find a great 
many people affected by Lord Maxwell's speeches in 
the North, and his reception there. To-day's result 
was inevitable, but, if I'm not mistaken, we shall now 
see a number of new combinations/ 

The sensitive face became in a moment all intellig- 
ence. She played the politician, and cross-examined 
him. He hesitated. What he was doing was already 
a treachery. But he only hesitated to give way. They 
lingered by the wall together, discussing possibilities 
and persons; and when Maxwell at last turned from 
his own conversations to suggest to his wife that it 
was time to go home, she came forward with a mien 

t " i 


of animation that surprised him. He greeted Tres- 
sady with friendliness, and then, as though a thought 
had struck him, suddenly drew the young man aside. 

'Ancoats, of course/ said George to himself; and 
Ancoats it was. 

Maxwell, without preliminaries, and taking his com- 
panion's knowledge of the story for granted no 
doubt on Fontenoy's information said a few words 
about the renewal of the difficulty. Did he not think it 
had all begun again? Yes, George had some reason to 
think so. ' If you can do anything for us ' 

'Of course! but what can I do? As we all know, 
Ancoats does not sit still to be scolded/ 

Their colloquy lasted only a minute or two; yet 
when it was over, and the Maxwells had gone, George 
was left with a vivid impression of the great man's 
quiet strength and magnanimity. No one could have 
guessed from his anxious and well-considered talk on 
this private matter that he was in the very heat of a 
political struggle that must affect all his own fortunes. 
Tressady had been accustomed to spend his wit on 
the heavier sides of Maxwell's character. To-night, he 
said to himself, half in a passion, grudging the con- 
fession, that it was not wonderful she loved him ! 

She! The remembrance of how her whole nature 
had brightened from its cloud as he drew out for her 
his own forecast of what might still happen ; the sweet 
confidence and charm that she had shown him; the 
intimacy of the tone she had allowed between them ; 
the mingling all through of a delicate abstinence from 
anything touching on his own personal position, with 
an unspoken recognition of it the impulse of a 
[ 12 ] 


generosity that could not help rewarding what seemed 
to it the yielding of an adversary ; these things filled 
him with a delicious pleasure as he walked home. In 
a hundred directions political, social, spiritual - 
the old horizons of the mind seemed to be lightening 
and expanding. The cynical, indifferent temper of 
his youth was breaking down; the whole man was 
more intelligent, capable, tender. Yet what sadness 
and restlessness of soul as soon as the brief moment 
of joy had come and gone ! 

A few afternoons of Supply encroached upon the 
eight days that still remained before the last clause 
of the Bill came to a division. But the whole eight 
days, nevertheless, were filled with the new permuta- 
tions and combinations which Tressady had foreseen. 
The Government carried the Stepney election, and in 
other quarters the effects of the speechmaking in the 
North began to be visible. Rumours of the syndicate 
already formed to take over large numbers of work- 
shops in both the Jewish and Gentile quarters of the 
East End, and of the hours and wages that were likely 
to obtain in the new factories, were driving a consider- 
able mass of working-class opinion, which had hitherto 
held aloof, straight for the Government, and splitting 
up much of that which had been purely hostile. 

Nevertheless, the situation in the House itself was 
hardly changing with the change in the country. The 
Socialist members very soon developed the proposal 
to make the landlords responsible for the carrying-out 
of the new Act into a furious general attack on the 
landlords of London. Their diatribes kept up the 
[ 13 ] 


terrors which had already cost the Government so 
many men. It was not possible, not seemly, to yield, 
as Maxwell was yielding, all along the line to these 
fellows ! 

But the Old Liberals, or the New Whigs, as George 
had expected, were restless. They felt the country, 
and they had no affection for landlords as such. Did 
a man arise who could give them a lead, there was no 
saying how soon they might not break away from the 
Fontenoy combination. Fontenoy felt it, and prowled 
among them like a Satan, urging them to complete 
their deed, to give the coup de grace. 

On the Wednesday afternoon before the Friday on 
which he thought the final vote would be taken, 
George let himself into his own house about six 
o'clock, thankful to feel that he had a quiet evening 
before him. He had been wandering about the House 
of Commons and its appurtenances all day, holding 
colloquies with this person and that, unable to see his 
way to come to any decision. And, as was now 
usual, he and Fontenoy had been engaged in steering 
out of each other's way as much as possible. 

As he went upstairs he noticed a letter lying on the 
step. He took it up, and found an open note, which 
he read, at first without thinking of it: 

'My dear Lady, Chatsworth can't be done. I 
have thrown my flies with great skill, but no go ! 
I don't seem to have influence enough in that quarter. 
But I have various other plans on hand. You shall 
have a jolly autumn, if I can manage it. There are 
some Scotch invitations I can certainly get you and 


I should like to show you the ways of those parts. By 
the way, I hope your husband shoots decently. People 
are very particular. And you really must consult me 
about your gowns I'm deuced clever at that sort of 
thing! I shall come to-morrow, when I have packed 
off my family to the country. Don't know why God- 
made families ! 

' Yours always, 


'George! is that you?' cried Letty from above 
him, in a voice half-angry, half-hesitating ; 'and and 
- that's my note. Please give it me at once.' 

He finished it under her eyes, then handed it to her 
with formal courtesy. They walked into the drawing- 
room, and George shut the door. He was very pale, 
and Letty quailed a little. 

'So Cathedine has been introducing us into society/ 
he said, ' and advising you as to your gowns. Was that 
quite necessary do you think?' 

'It's very simple what he has been doing/ was her 
angry reply. 'You never take any pains to make life 
amusing to me, so I must look elsewhere, if I want 
society that's all.' 

'And it never occurs to you that you are thereby 
incurring an unseemly obligation to a man whom I 
dislike, whom I have warned you against, who bears 
everywhere an evil name? You think I am likely to 
enjoy to put up with, even the position of being 
asked on sufferance as your appendage provided 
I "shoot decently"?' 

His tone of scorn, his slight figure, imperiously 
[ 15 ] 


drawn up, sent her a challenge, which she answered 
with sullen haste. 

'That's all nonsense, of course! And, he would n't 
be rude to you if you were n't always rude to him.' 

'Rude to him!' He smiled. 'But now, let us get 
to the bottom of this thing. Did Cathedine get us the 
cards for Clarence House and that Goodwood invi- 

Letty made no answer. She stared at him defi- 
antly, twisting and untwisting the ribbons of her blue 

George reddened hotly. His personal pride in mat- 
ters of social manners was one of his strongest charac- 

' Let me beg you, at any rate, to write and tell Lord 
Cathedine that we will not trouble him for any more 
of these kind offices. And, moreover, I shall not go 
to any of these houses in the autumn unless I am quite 
certain he has had nothing to do with it.' 

'I have accepted/ said Letty, breathing hard. 

'I cannot help that. You should have been frank 
with me. I am not going to do what would destroy 
my own self-respect.' 

'No you prefer making love to Lady Maxwell!' 

He looked steadily a moment at her pallor and her 
furious eyes. Then he said, in another tone : 

' Letty, does it ever occur to you that we have not 
been married yet five months? Are our relations to 
each other to go on for ever like this? I think we 
might make something better of them/ 

'That's your lookout. But as to these invitations, 
I have accepted them, and I shall go.' 


' I don't think you will. You would find it would n't 
do. Anyway, Cathedine must be written to.' 

' I shall do nothing of the kind ! ' she cried. 

'Then I shall write myself/ 

She rose, quivering with passion, supporting herself 
on the arm of her chair. 

'If you do, I will find some way of punishing you 
for it. Oh, if I had never made myself miserable by 
marrying you ! ' 

Their eyes met. Then he said : 

' I think I had better go and dine at the club. We 
are hardly fit to be together.' 

'Go, for Heaven's sake!' she said, with a disdainful 

Outside the door he paused a moment, head bent, 
hands clenched. Then a wild, passionate look over- 
spread his young face. 'It is her evening/ he said to 
himself. ' Letty turns me out. I will go.' 

Meanwhile Letty stood where he had left her till 
she had heard the street-door close. The typical, 
significant sound knelled to her heart. She began to 
walk tempestuously up and down, crying with excite- 

Time passed on. The August evening closed in; 
and in this deserted London nobody came to see her. 
She dined alone, and afterwards spent what seemed 
to her interminable hours pacing the drawing-room 
and meditating. At last there was a pause in the 
rush of selfish or jealous feeling which had been puls- 
ing through her for weeks past, dictating all her 
actions, fevering all her thoughts. And there is no- 
thing so desolate as such a pause, to such a nature. 
[ 17 ] 


For it means reflexion; it means putting one's life 
away from one, and looking at it as a whole. And to 
the Lettys of this world there is no process more abhor- 
rent none they will spend more energy in escaping. 

It was inexplicable, intolerable that she should be 
so unhappy. What was it that tortured her so - 
hatred of Marcella Maxwell, or pain that she had lost 
her husband? But she had never imagined herself 
in love with him when she married him. He had 
never obtained from her before a tenth part of the 
thought she had bestowed upon him during the past 
six weeks. During all the time that she had been 
flirting with Cathedine, and recklessly placing herself 
in his power by the favours she asked of him, she saw 
now, with a kind of amazement, that she had been 
thinking constantly of George, determined to impress 
him with her social success, to force him to admire 
her and think much of her. 

Cathedine? Had he any real attraction for her? 
Why, she was afraid of him, she knew him to be 
coarse and brutal, even while she played with him 
and sent him on her errands. When she compared 
him with George even George as she had just seen 
him in this last odious scene she felt the tears of 
anger and despair rising. 

But to be forced to dismiss him at George's word, 
to submit in this matter of the invitations, to let her- 
self be trampled on, while George gave all his hom- 
age, all his best mind, to Lady Maxwell something 
scorching flew through her veins as she thought of it. 
Never! never! She would find, she had already 
thought of, a startling way of avenging herself. 
[ 18 ] 


Late at night George came home. She had locked 
her door, and he turned into his dressing-room. When 
the house was quiet again, she pressed her face into 
the pillows, and wept till she was amazed at her own 
pain, and must needs turn her rage upon herself. 

When Tressady arrived at the house in Mile End 
Road he found the pretty, bare room where Marcella 
held her gatherings full of guests. The East End had 
not 'gone out of town/ The two little workhouse 
girls, in the whitest of caps and aprons, were carrying 
round trays of coffee and cakes, and beyond the open 
window was a tiny garden, backed by a huge Board 
School and some tall warehouses, yet as pleasant 
within its own small space as a fountain and flowers, 
constantly replenished from Maxwell Court, could 
make it. 

Amid the medley of workmen, union officials, and 
members of Parliament that the room contained, 
George was set first of all to talk to a young school- 
master or two, but he had never felt so little able to 
adjust his mind to strangers. The thought of his home 
miseries burnt within him. When could he get his 
turn with her? He was thirsty for the sound of her 
voice, the kindness of her eyes. 

She had received him with unusual warmth, and an 
eagerness of look that seemed to show she had at least 
as much to say to him as he to her. And at last his 
turn came. She took some of her guests into the 
garden. George followed, and they found themselves 
side by side. 

'Well ! what do you think of it all to-day? Are you 
[ 19 ] 


still inclined to prophesy?' she asked him, smil- 

' I might be if I saw any chance of the man you 
want. But he does n't seem to be forthcoming, and ' 

'And to-morrow is the end!' 

'The Government has quite made up its mind not 
to take defeat not to accept modifications?' 

She shook her head. 

They were standing at the end of the garden, look- 
ing into the brightly lit windows of the Board School, 
where evening-classes were going on. She gave a long 

'As for us personally, we can only be thankful to 
have it over. Neither of us could have borne it much 
longer. I suppose, when the crisis is all over, we shall 
go away for a long time.' 

By 'the crisis' she meant, of course, the resigna- 
tion of Ministers and a change of Government. So 
that a few days hence she would be no longer within 
his reach at all. Maxwell, once out of office, would, 
no doubt, for a long while to come prefer to spend 
the greater part of his time in Brookshire, away from 
politics. A sudden sharp perception woke in Tressady 
of what it would mean to him to find himself in a world 
where, on going out of a morning, it would be no 
longer possible to come across her. 

At last she broke the silence. 

'How little I really thought, in spite of all one's 
anxiety, that Lord Fontenoy was going to win! He 
has played his cards amazingly well/ 

George took no notice. Thoughts were whirling in 
his brain. 

[ 20 ] 

Mrs. Ward in 1888 


'What would you say to me, I wonder/ he said at 
last, 'if / were to try the part?' 

He spoke in a bantering tone, poking at the black 
London earth with his stick. 

'What part?' 

'Well, it seems to me I might put the case. One 
wants to argue the thing in a common-sense way. I 
don't feel towards this clause as I did towards the 
others. I know a good many men don't.' 

He turned to her with a light composure. 

She stared in bewilderment. 'I don't understand/ 

'Well; why should n't one put the case? We have 
always counted on the hostility of the country. But 
the country seems to be coming round. Some of us 
now feel the Bill should have its chance we are 
inclined to let Ministers take the responsibility. But 
gracious Heavens ! to suppose the House would pay 
any attention to me ! ' 

He took up a stone and jerked it over the wall. She 
did not speak for a moment. At last she said : 

'It would be a grave thing for you to do.' 

He turned, and their eyes met, hers full of emotion, 
and his hesitating and reflective. Then he laughed, 
his pride stung a little by her expression. 

'You think I should do myself more harm, than 
good to anybody else?' 

'No. Only it would be serious/ she repeated 
after a pause. 

Instantly he dropped the subject as far as his own 
action was concerned. He led her back into discussion 
of other people, and of the situation in general. 

Then suddenly, as they talked, a host of thoughts 


fled cloud -like, rising and melting, through Marcella's 
memory. She remembered with what prestige con- 
sidering his youth and inexperience he had entered 
Parliament, the impression made by the short and 
brilliant campaign of his election. Now, since the real 
struggle of the session had begun, his energies seemed 
to have been unaccountably in abeyance and eclipse. 
People she noticed had ceased to talk of him. But 
supposing, after all, there had been a crisis of mind 
and conviction underlying it? supposing that now, 
at the last moment, in a situation that cried out for a 
leader, something should suddenly release his powers 
and gifts to do their proper work - 

It vexed her to realise her own excitement, together 
with an odd shrinking and reluctance that seemed to 
be fighting with it. 

All in a moment, to Tressady's astonishment, she 
recalled the conversation to the point where it had 
turned aside. 

'And you think you really think' --her voice 
had a nervous, appealing note --'that even at this 
eleventh hour - No, I don't understand! I can't 
understand ! why, or how you should still think it 
possible to change opinion enough ! ' 

He felt a sting of pleasure, and the passing sense 
of hurt pride was soothed. At least he had conquered 
her attention, her curiosity ! 

'I am sure that anything might still happen/ he 
said, stubbornly. 

'Well, only let it be settled!' she said, trying to 
speak lightly, 'else there will be nothing left of some 
of us/ 

[ 22 ] 


She raised her hand, and pushed back her hair with 
a childish gesture of weariness, that was quite uncon- 
scious, and therefore touching. 

As she spoke, indeed, the thought of a strong man 
harassed with overwork, and patiently preparing to 
lay down his baffled task, and all his cherished hopes, 
captured her mind, brought a quick rush of tears even 
to her eyes. Tressady looked at her ; he saw the moist- 
ure in the eyes, the reddening of the cheek, the effort 
for self-control. 

'Why do you let yourself feel it so much? 7 he 
said involuntarily, almost roughly; 'it is not natural, 
nor right/ 

'That's our old quarrel, isn't it?' she answered, 

He was staring at the ground again, poking with 
his stick. 

'There are so many things one must feel/ he said, 
in a bitter, low voice; 'one may as well try to take 
politics calmly/ 

She looked down upon him, understanding, but not 
knowing how to meet him, how to express herself. 
His words and manner were a confession of personal 
grief, almost an appeal to her, the first he had 
ever made. Yet how to touch the subject of his mar- 
riage ! She shrank from it painfully. What ominous, 
disagreeable things she had heard lately of the young 
Lady Tressady from people she trusted! Why, oh! 
why had he ruined his own life in such a way ! 

And with the yearning towards all suffering which 
was natural to her, there mingled so much else in- 
evitable softness and gratitude for that homage to- 
ll 23 ] 


wards herself, which had begun to touch and challenge 
all the loving, responsive impulse which was at the 
root of her character an eager wish to put out a 
hand and guide him all tending to shape in her 
this new longing to rouse him to some critical and 
courageous action, action which should give him at 
least the joy that men get from the strenuous use of 
natural powers, from the realisation of themselves. 
And through it all the most divinely selfish blindness 
to the real truth of the situation! Yet she tried not 
to think of Maxwell she wished to think only of 
and for her friend. 

After his last words they stood side by side in silence 
for a few moments. But the expression of her eyes, 
of her attitude, was all sympathy. He must needs 
feel that she cared, she understood, that his life, his 
pain, his story mattered to her. At last she said, turn- 
ing her face away from him, and from the few people 
who had not yet left the garden to go and listen to 
some music that was going on in the drawing-room: 

'Sometimes, the best way to forget one's own trou- 
bles don't you think? is to put something else 
first for a time perhaps in your case, the public life 
and service. Might n't it be? Suppose you thought it 
all really out, what you have been saying to me - 
gave yourself up to it and then took your deter- 
mination? Perhaps afterwards - 

She paused overcome with doubt, even shyness 

- and very pale, too, as she turned to him again. Her 

pallor, her perplexity seemed to strike down some of 

the barrier between them, to present her to him as 

weaker, more approachable. 

[ 24 ] 


But after waiting a moment, he gave a little harsh 

'Afterwards, when one has somehow settled other 
people's affairs, one might see straighter in one's own? 
Is that what you mean?' 

'I meant/ she said, speaking with difficulty, 'what 
I have often found myself that it helps one, 
sometimes, to throw one's self into considerations 
- affairs altogether outside one's own life, in a 
large, disinterested way. Afterwards, one comes back 
to one's own puzzles with a fresh strength and 

'Hope!' he said, despondently, with a quick lifting 
of the shoulders. Then, in another tone 

'So that's your advice to me to take this thing 
seriously even now even at this stage? to 
take myself seriously to think it out again 

'Yes, yes/ she said, eagerly; 'don't trifle with it 
with what you might think and do till it is too 
late to think and do anything.' 

Suddenly it flashed across them both how far they 
had travelled since their first meeting in the spring. 
Her mind filled with a kind of dread, an uneasy sense 
of responsibility then with a tremulous conscious- 
ness of power. It was as though she felt something 
fluttering like a bird in her hands. And all the time 
there echoed through her memory a voice speaking 
in a moonlit garden - 'You know you don't mind 
my saying it? nobody is ever converted polit- 
ically nowadays/ 

No ! but there may be honest advance and change 
[ 25 ] 


why not? And if she had influenced him was 
it not Maxwell's work and thought that had spoken 
through her? 

'Well, anyway/ said Tressady's voice beside her, 
'whatever happens you'll believe - 

'That you won't help to give us the coup de grace 
unless you must?' she said, half -laughing, yet with 
manifest emotion. 'Anyway, I should have believed 

'And you really care so much?' he asked her again, 
looking at her, and wondering. 

She suddenly dropped her head upon her hands. 
They were alone now in the moonlit garden, and she 
was leaning over the low wall that divided them from 
the school enclosure. But before he could say any- 
thing before he could even move closer to her - 
she had raised her face again, and drawn her hand 
rapidly across her eyes. 

'I suppose one is tired and foolish after all these 
weeks,' she said, with a breaking voice--'! apo- 
logise. You see when one comes to see everything 
through another's eyes to live in another's life - 

He felt a sudden stab, then a leap of joy hungry, 
desolate joy that she should thus admit him to the 
very sanctuary of her heart let him touch the 'very 
pulse of the machine.' At the same moment that it 
revealed the eternal gulf between them, it gave him 
a delicious passionate sense of intimity of privilege. 

'You have a marvellous idea of marriage' - - he 
said, under his breath, as he moved slowly beside her 
towards the house. 

She made no answer. In another minute she was 
[ 26 ] 


talking to him of indifferent things, and immediately 
afterwards he found himself parted from her in the 
crowd of the drawing-room. 

When the party dispersed and he was walking alone 
towards Aldgate through the night, he could do no- 
thing but repeat to himself fragments of what she had 
said to him lost all the time in a miserable yearning 
memory of her eyes and voice. 

His mind was made up. And as he lay sleepless 
and solitary through the night, he scarcely thought 
any more of the strait to which his married life had 
come. Forty-eight hours hence he should have time 
for that. For the present he had only to 'think out' 
how it might be possible for him to turn doubt and 
turmoil into victory, and lay the crown of it at Mar- 
cella Maxwell's feet. 

Meanwhile Marcella, on her return to St. James's 
Square, put her hands on Maxwell's shoulders, and 
said to him, in a voice unlike herself: 'Sir George 
Tressady was at the party to-night. I think he may 
be going to throw Lord Fontenoy over. Don't be sur- 
prised if he speaks in that sense to-morrow.' 

Maxwell looked extraordinarily perturbed. 

'I hope he will do nothing of the kind,' he said, 
with decision. 'It will do him enormous harm. All 
the conviction he has ever shown has been the other 
way. It will be thought to be a mere piece of caprice 
and indiscipline.' 

Marcella said nothing. She walked away from him, 
her hands clasped behind her, her soft skirt trailing 
a pale muse of meditation meditation in which for 
once she did not invite him to share. 
[ 27 ] 


'Tressady, by all that's wonderful!' said a member 
of Fontenoy's party to his neighbour. 'What's he got 
to say?' 

The man addressed bent forward, with his hands on 
his knees, to look eagerly at the speaker. 

'I knew there was something up,' he said. 'Every 
time I have come across Tressady to-day he has been 
deep with one or other of those fellows' - - he jerked 
his head towards the Liberal benches. 'I saw him 
buttonholing Green in the Library, then with Speed- 
well on the Terrace. And just look at their benches! 
They're as thick as bees! Yes, by George! there is 
something up.' 

His young sportsman's face flushed with excitement, 
and he tried hard through the intervening heads to 
get a glimpse of Fontenoy. But nothing was to be 
seen of the leader but a hat jammed down over the 
eyes, a square chin, and a pair of folded arms. 

The House, indeed, throughout the day had worn 
an aspect which, to the experienced observer to the 
smooth-faced Home Secretary, for instance, watch- 
ing the progress of this last critical division meant 
that everything was possible, the unexpected above 
all. Rumours gathered and died away. Men might be 
seen talking with unaccustomed comrades ; and those 
who were generally most frank had become discreet. It 
was known that Fontenoy's anxiety had been growing 
rapidly; and it was noticed that he and the young 
viscount who acted as the Whip of the party had kept 
an extraordinarily sharp watch on all their own men 
through the dinner 4iour. 

Fontenoy himself had spoken before dinner, throw- 
[ 28 ] 


ing scorn upon the clause, as the ill-conceived finish 
of an impossible Bill. So the landlords were to be 
made the executants, the police, of this precious Act? 
Every man who let out a tenement-house in workmen's 
dwellings was to be haled before the law and punished 
if a tailor on his premises did his work at home, if a 
widow took in shirtmaking to keep her children. Pass, 
for the justice or the expediency of such a law in itself. 
But who but a madman ever supposed you could get 
it carried out ! What if the landlords refused or neg- 
lected their part? Quis custodiet ? And was Parliament 
going to make itself ridiculous by setting up a law, 
which, were it a thousand times desirable, you simply 
could not enforce? 

The speech was delivered with amazing energy. It 
abounded in savage epigram and personality; and a 
month before it would have had great effect. Every 
Englishman has an instinctive hatred of paper re- 

During the dinner-hour Tressady met Fontenoy in 
the Lobby, and suddenly stopped to speak. The young 
man was deeply flushed and holding himself stiffly 
erect. 'If you want me/ he said 'you will find me 
in the Library. I don't want to spring anything upon 
you. You shall know all I know/ 

'Thank you/ said the other, with slow bitterness 

'but we can look after ourselves. I think you and 
I understood each other this morning/ 

The two men parted abruptly. Tressady walked on, 

stung and excited afresh by the memory of the hateful 

half -hour he had spent that morning in Fontenoy 's 

library. For after all, when once he had come to his 

[ 29 ] 


decision, he had tried to behave with frankness, with 

Fontenoy hurried on to look for the young viscount 
with the curls and shoulders, and the two men stood 
about the inner lobby together, Fontenoy sombrely 
watching everybody who came out or in. 

It was about ten o'clock when Tressady caught the 
Speaker's eye. He rose in a crowded House, a House 
conscious not only that the division shortly to be 
taken would decide the fate of a Government, but 
vaguely aware, besides, that something else was in- 
volved one of those personal incidents that may at 
any moment make the dullest piece of routine drama- 
tic, or rise into history by the juxtaposition of some 
great occasion. 

The House had not yet made up its opinion about 
him as a speaker. He had done well ; then, not so well. 
And, moreover, it was so long since he had taken any 
part in debate that the House had had time to forget 
whatever qualities he might once have shown. 

His bearing and voice won him a first point. For 
youth, well-bred and well -equipped, the English House 
of Commons has always shown a peculiar indulgence. 
Then members began to bend eagerly forward, to crane 
necks, to put hands to ears. The Treasury Bench was 
seen to be listening as one man. 

Before the speech was over many of those present 
had already recognised in it a political event of the 
first order. The speaker had traced with great frank- 
ness his own relation to the Bill from an opinion 
which was but a prejudice, to a submission which was 
still half repugnance. He drew attention to the re- 
[ 30 ] 


markable and growing movement in support of the 
Maxwell policy which was now spreading throughout 
the country, after a period of coolness and suspended 
judgement ; he pointed to the probable ease with which, 
as it was now seen, the ' harassed trades ' would adapt 
themselves to the new law ; he showed that the House, 
in at least three critical divisions, and under circum- 
stances of enormous difficulty, had still affirmed the 
Bill ; that the country, during the progress of the meas- 
ure, had rallied unmistakeablytothe Government, and 
that all that remained was a question of machinery. 
That being so, he and, he believed, some others 

- had reconsidered their positions. Their electoral 
pledges, in their opinion, no longer held, though they 
would be ready at any moment to submit themselves 
to consequences, if consequences there were to be. 

Then, taking up the special subject-matter of the 
clause, he threw himself upon his leader's speech with 
a nervous energy, an information, and a resource 
which held the House amazed. He tore to pieces 
Fontenoy's elaborate attack, showed what practical 
men thought of the clause, and with what careful reli- 
ance upon their opinion and their experience it had 
been framed ; and, finally with a reference not lack- 
ing in a veiled passion that told upon the House, to 
those 'dim toiling thousands' whose lot, 'as it comes 
to work upon the mind, is daily perplexing if not trans- 
forming the thoughts and ideals of such men as I* 

- he, in the plainest terms, announced his intention 
of voting with the Government, and sat down, amid 
the usual mingled storm, in a shouting and excited 

[ 31 ] 


The next hour passed in a tumult. One speaker 
after another got up from the Liberal benches burly 
manufacturers and men of business, who had so far 
held a strong post in the army of resistance to ten- 
der their submission, to admit that the fight had gone 
far enough, that the country was against them, and 
that the Bill must be borne. What use, too, in turning 
out a Government which would either be sent back 
with redoubled strength or replaced by combinations 
that had no attractions whatever for men of moder- 
ate minds? Sadness reigned in the speeches of this 
Liberal remnant; nor could the House from time to 
time forbear to jeer them. But they made their pur- 
pose plain, and the Government Whip, standing near 
the door, gleefully struck off name after name from his 
Opposition list. 

Then followed the usual struggle between the divi- 
sion that all men wanted and the speakers that no 
man could endure. But at last the bell was rung, the 
House cleared. As Tressady turned against the stream 
of his party, Fontenoy, with a sarcastic smile, stood 
elaborately aside to let him pass. 

'We shall soon know what you have cost us/ he 
said hoarsely in Tressady 's ear ; then, advancing a little 
towards the centre of the floor, he looked up markedly 
and deliberately at the Ladies' Gallery. Tressady 
made no reply. He held his fair head higher than 
usual as he passed on his unaccustomed way to the 
Aye Lobby. Many an eager eye strained back to see 
how many recruits would join him as he reached the 
Front Opposition Bench; many a Parliamentary 
Nestor watched the young man's progress with a keen- 

[ 32 J 


ness born of memory memory that burnt anew with 
the battles of the past. 

'Do you remember Chandos,' said one old man to 
another ' young Chandos, that went for Peel in '46 
against his party? It was my first year in Parliament. 
I can see him now. He was something like this young 

'But Ms ratting changed nothing/ said his com- 
panion, with an uneasy laugh; and they both strug- 
gled forward among the Noes. 

Twenty minutes later the tellers were at the table, 
and the moment that was to make or mar a great 
Ministry had come. 

'Ayes, 306; Noes, 280. The Ayes have it!' 

'By Jove, he's done it! the Judas!' cried a 
young fellow, crimson with excitement, who was 
standing beside Fontenoy ! 

'Yes he's done it!' said Fontenoy, with grim 
composure, though the hand that held his hat shook. 
'The curtain may now fall.' 

'Where is he?' shouted the hot bloods around him, 
hooting and groaning, as their eyes searched the House 
for the man who had thus, in an afternoon, pulled 
down and defeated all their hopes. 

But Tressady was nowhere to be seen. He had left 
the House just as the great news, surging like a wave 
through lobby and corridor, reached a group of people 
waiting in a Minister's private room and Marcella 
Maxwell knew that all was won. 


I SHALL go straight to Brook Street, and see if I can 
be a comfort to Letty,' said Mrs. Watton, with a tone 
and air, however, that seemed to class her rather with 
the Sons of Thunder than the Sons of Consolation. 

She was standing on the steps of the Ladies' Gallery 
entrance to the House of Commons, and Harding, who 
had just called a cab for her, was beside her. 

'Could you see from the Gallery whether George had 

'He was still there when I came down/ said Mrs. 
Watton, ungraciously, as though she grudged to talk 
of such a monster. 'I saw him near the door while 
they hooted him. But, anyway, I should go to Letty 
I don't forget that I am her only relative in town/ 

As a matter of fact, her eyes had played her false. 
But the wrath with which her large face and bonnet 
were shaking was cause enough for hallucinations. 

'Then I'll go, too,' said Harding, who had been 
hesitating. 'No doubt Tressady'll stay for his 
thanks ! But I dare say we shan't find Letty at home 
yet. I know she was to go to the Lucys' to-night.' 

'Poor lamb!' said Mrs. Watton, throwing up her 

Harding laughed. 

' Oh ! Letty won't take it like a lamb you '11 see ! ' 

'What can a woman do?' said his mother, scorn- 
fully. ' A decent woman, I mean, whom one can still 
[ 34 ] 


have in one's house. All she can do is to cry, and 
take a district/ 

When they reached Upper Brook Street, the butler 
reported that his mistress had just come in. He made, 
of course, no difficulty about admitting Lady Tres- 
sady's aunt, and Mrs. Watton sailed up to the drawing- 
room, followed by Harding, who carried his head 
poked forward, as was usual to him, an opera-hat 
under his arm, and an eyeglass swinging from a limp 

As they entered the drawing-room door, Letty, in 
full evening-dress, was standing with her back to 
them. She had the last edition of an evening paper 
open before her, so that her small head and shoulders 
seemed buried in the sheet. And so eager was her 
attention to what she was reading that she had not 
heard their approach. 

'Letty!' said Mrs. Watton. 

Her niece turned with a violent start. 

'My dear Letty!' The aunt approached, quivering 
with majestic sympathy, both hands outstretched. 

Letty looked at her a moment, frowning; then re- 
coiled impatiently, without taking any notice of the 

'So I see George has spoken against his party. 
There has been a scene. What has happened? What's 
the end?' 

'Only that the Government has won its clause/ 
said Harding, interposing his smooth falsetto 'won 
by a substantial majority, too. No chance of the 
Lords playing the fool!' 

'The Government has won? the Maxwells have 
[ 35 ] 


won, that is, she has won ! ' said Letty, still frown- 
ing, her voice sharp and tingling. 

'If you like to put it so/ said Harding, raising his 
shoulders. 'Yes, I should think that set's pretty 
jubilant to-night.' 

'And you mean to say that George did and said 
nothing to prepare you, my poor child? 7 cried Mrs. 
Watton, in her heaviest manner. She had picked up 
the newspaper, and was looking with disgust at the 
large head-lines with which the hastily printed sheet 
strove to eke out the brevity of the few words in 
which it announced the speech of the evening: 'Scene 
in the House of Commons Break-down of the Resist- 
ance to the Bill Sir George Tressady's Speech 
Unexampled Excitement.' 

Letty breathed fast. 

'He said something a day or two ago about a 
change, but of course I never believed He has 
disgraced himself!' 

She began to pace stormily up and down the room, 
her white skirts floating behind her, her small hands 
pulling at her gloves. Harding Watton stood looking 
on in an attitude of concern, one pensive finger laid 
upon his lip. 

'Well, my dear Letty/ said Mrs. Watton, impress- 
ively, as she laid down the newspaper, 'the only 
thing to be done is to take him away. Let people 
forget it if they can. And let me tell you, for your 
comfort, that he is not the first man, by a long way, 
that woman has led astray nor will he be the 

Letty's pale cheeks flamed into red. She stopped. 
[ 36 ] 


She turned upon her comforter with eyes of hot re- 
sentment and dislike. 'And they dare to say that he 
did it for her! What right has anybody to say it?' 

Mrs. Watton stared. Harding slowly and compas- 
sionately shook his head. 

'I am afraid the world dares to say a great many 
unpleasant things don't you know? One has to 
put up with it. Lady Maxwell has a characteristic 
way of doing things. It's like a painter: one can't 
miss the touch/ 

' No more than one can mistake a saying of Harding 
Watton 's,' said a vibrating voice behind them. 

And there in the open doorway stood Tressady, pale, 
spent, and hollow-eyed, yet none the less the roused 
master of the house, determined to assert himself 
against a couple of intruders. 

Letty looked at him in silence, one foot beating the 
ground. Harding started, and turned aside to search 
for his opera-hat, which he had deposited upon the 
sofa. Mrs. Watton was quite unabashed. 

'We did not expect you so soon,' she said, holding 
out a chilly hand. 'And I dare say you will misunder- 
stand our being here. I cannot help that. It seemed 
to me my duty, as Letty 's nearest relative in London, 
to come here and condole with her to-night on this 
deplorable event.' 

' I don't know what you mean,' said Tressady, coolly, 
his hand on his side. 'Are you speaking of the di- 

Mrs. Watton threw up her hands and her eyebrows. 
Then, gathering up her dress, she marched across the 
rqom to Letty. 

[ 37 ] 


'Good-night, Letty. I should have been glad to 
have had a quiet talk with you, but as your husband's 
come in I shall go. Oh ! I 'm not the person to inter- 
fere between husband and wife. Get him to tell you, 
if you can, why he has disappointed the friends and 
supporters who got him into Parliament ; why he has 
broken all his promises, and given everybody the right 
to pity his unfortunate young wife! Oh! don't alarm 
yourself, Sir George! I say my mind, but I'm going. 
I know very well that I am intruding. Good -night. 
Letty understands that she will always find sympathy 
in my house.' 

And the fierce old lady swept to the door, holding 
the culprit with her eyes. Harding, too, stepped up 
to Letty, who was standing now by the mantelpiece, 
with her back to the room. He took the hand hang- 
ing by her side, and folded it ostentatiously in both of 

'Good -night, dear little cousin,' he said, in his most 
affected voice. ' If you have any need of us, command 

'Are you going?' said Tressady. His brow was 
curiously wrinkled. 

Harding made him a bow, and walked with rather 
sidling steps to the door. Tressady followed him to 
the landing, called to the butler, who was still up, and 
ceremoniously told him to get Mrs. Watton a cab. 
Then he walked back to the drawing-room, and shut 
the door behind him. 


His tone startled her. She looked round hastily. 

'Letty! you were defending me as I came in.' 
I 38 ] 


He was extraordinarily pale his blue eyes flashed. 
Every trace of the hauteur with which he had treated 
the Wattons had disappeared. 

Letty recovered herself in an instant. The moment 
he showed softness she became the tyrant. 

'Don't come! don't touch me!' she said, passion- 
ately, putting out her hand as he approached her. 
'If I defended you, it was just for decency's sake. 
You have disgraced us both. It is perfectly true what 
Aunt Watton says. I don't suppose we shall ever get 
over it. Oh ! don't try to bully me' for Tressady had 
turned away with an impatient groan. 'It's no use. 
I know you think me a little fool! I'm not one of 
your great political ladies, who pretend to know every- 
thing, that they may keep men dangling after them. 
I don't pose and play the hypocrite, as some some 
people do. But, all the same, I know that you have 
done for yourself, and that people will say the most 
disgraceful things. Of course they will! And you 
can't deny them you know you can't. Why did 
you never tell me a thing? Who made you change 
over? Ah ! you can't answer or you won't !' 

Tressady was walking up and down with folded 
arms. He paused at her challenge. 

'Why didn't I tell you? Do you remember that 
I wanted to talk to you yesterday morning that I 
suggested you should come and hear my speech and 
you would n't have it? You did n't care about poli- 
tics, you said, and were n't going to pretend. What 
made me go over? Well I changed my mind to 
some extent,' he said, slowly. 

'To some extent?' She laughed scornfully, mim- 
[ 39 ] 


icking his voice. ' To some extent ! Are you going to 
try and make me believe there was nothing else?' 

'No. As I walked home to-night I determined not 
to conceal the truth from you. Opinions counted for 
something. I voted yes, taking all things together, 
I think it may be said that I voted honestly. But I 
should never have taken the part I did but' - - he 
hesitated, then went on deliberately 'but that I 
had come to have a strong wish to give Lady 
Maxwell her heart's desire. She has been my friend. 
I repaid her what I could.' 

Letty, half beside herself, flung at him a shower of 
taunts hysterical and hardly intelligible. He showed 
no emotion. 'Of course,' he said, disdainfully, 'if you 
choose to repeat this to others you will do us both 
great damage. I suppose I can't help it. For any- 
body else in the world for Mrs. Watton and her son, 
for instance I have a perfectly good political de- 
fence, and I shall defend myself stoutly. I have no 
intention whatever of playing the penitent in public.' 

And what, she asked him, striving with all her might 
to regain the self-command which could alone enable 
her to wound him, to get the mastery what was to 
be her part in this little comedy? Did he expect her 
to put up with this charming situation to take what 
Marcella Maxwell left? 

'No,' he said, abruptly. 'You have no right to 
reproach me or her in any vulgar way. But I recognise 
that the situation is impossible. I shall probably 
leave Parliament and London.' 

She stared at him in speechless passion, then sud- 
denly gathered up her fan and gloves and fled past him. 
[ 40 ] 


He caught at her, and stopped her, holding her satin 

'My poor child!' he cried, in remorse; 'bear with 
me, Letty and forgive me ! ' 

'I hate you!' she said, fiercely, 'and I will never 
forgive you!' 

She wrenched her dress away; he heard her quick 
steps across the floor and up the stairs. 

Tressady fell into a chair, broken with exhaustion. 
His day in the House of Commons alone would have 
tried any man's nervous strength; this final scene 
had left him in a state to shrink from another word, 
another sound. 

He must have dozed as he sat there from pure 
fatigue, for he found himself waking suddenly, with 
a sense of chill, as the August dawn was penetrating 
the closed windows and curtains. 

He sprang up, and pulled the curtains back with a 
stealthy hand, so as to make no noise. Then he opened 
the window and stepped out upon the balcony, into 
a misty haze of sun. 

The morning air blew upon him, and he drew it 
in with delight. How blessed was the sun, and the 
silence of the streets, and the dappled sky there to 
the east, beyond the Square ! 

After those long hours of mental tension in the 
crowd and heat of the House of Commons, what joy ! 
what physical relief! He caught eagerly at the sensa- 
tion of bodily pleasure, driving away his cares, let- 
ting the morning freshness recall to him a hundred 
memories the memories of a traveller who has seen 
much, and loved Nature more than man. Blue sur- 


faces of rippling sea, cool steeps among the moun- 
tains, streams brawling over their stones, a thousand 
combinations of grass and trees and sun these 
things thronged through his brain, evoked by the wan- 
dering airs of this pale London sunrise and the few 
dusty plains which he could see to his right, behind 
the Park railings. And, like heralds before the pre- 
sence, these various images flitted, passed, drew to one 
side, while memory in trembling revealed at last the 
best she had an English river flowing through June 
meadows under a heaven of flame, a woman with a 
child, the scents of grass and hawthorn, the plashing 
of water. 

He hung over the balcony, dreaming. 

But before long he roused himself, and went back 
into the house. The gaudy drawing-room looked 
singularly comfortless and untidy in the delicate 
purity of the morning light. The flowers Letty had 
worn in her dress the night before were scattered on 
the floor, and the evening paper lay on the chair, where 
she had flung it down. 

He stood in the centre of the room, his head raised, 
listening. No sound. Surely she was asleep. In spite 
of all the violence she had shown in their after-talk, 
the memory of her speech to Mrs. Watton lingered 
in the young fellow's mind. It astonished him to real- 
ise, as he stood there, in this morning silence, straining 
to hear if his wife were moving overhead, how, pan 
passu with the headlong progress of his act of homage 
to the one woman, certain sharp perceptions with 
regard to the other had been rising in his mind. 

His life had been singularly lacking till now in any 
[ 42 ] 


conscious moral strain. That a man's desires should 
outrun his conscience had always seemed to him, on 
the whole, the normal human state. But all sorts of 
new standards and ideals had begun to torment him 
since the beginning of his friendship with Marcella 
Maxwell, and a hundred questions that had never 
yet troubled him were even now pressing through his 
mind as to his relations to his wife, and the inexor- 
ableness of his debt towards her. 

Moreover, he had hardly left the House of Com- 
mons and its uproar his veins were still throbbing 
with the excitement of the division when a voice 
said to him, 'This is the end! You have had your 
"moment" -now leave the stage before any mean 
anti-climax comes to spoil it all. Go. Break your 
life across. Don't wait to be dismissed and shaken 
off take her gratitude with you, and go!' 

Ah! but not yet not yet! He sat down before 
his wife's little writing-table, and buried his face in 
his hands, while his heart burnt with longing. One 
day then he would accept his fate, and try and end 
both his own life and Letty's. 

Would it be generous to drop out of her ken at once, 
leave the gift in her lap, and say nothing? Ah! but 
he was not capable of it. His act must have its price. 
Just one half-hour with her face to face. Then, 
shut the door and, good-bye ! What was there to 
fear? He could control himself. But after all these 
weeks, after their conversation of the night before, 
to go away without a word would be discourteous 
unkind even almost a confession to her of the whys 
and wherefores of what he had done. 
[ 43 ] 


He had a book of hers which he had promised to 
return. It was a precious little manuscript book, con- 
taining records written out by herself of lives she had 
known among the poor. She prized it much, and had 
begged him to keep it safe and return it. 

He took it out of his pocket, looked at it, and put 
it carefully back. In a few hours the little book should 
pass him into her presence. The impulse that pos- 
sessed him barred for the moment all remorse, all 

Then he looked for paper and pen and began to write. 

He sat for some time, absorbed in his task, doing 
his very best with it. It was a letter to his constitu- 
ents, and it seemed to him he must have been think- 
ing of it in his sleep, so easily did the sentences run. 

No doubt, ill-natured gossip of the Watton type 
would be humming and hissing round her name for 
the next few days. Well, let him write his letter as 
well as he could, and publish it as soon as possible! 
It took him about an hour and a half, and when he 
read it over it appeared to him the best piece of polit- 
ical statement he had yet achieved. Very likely it 
would make Fontenoy more savage still. But Pen- 
dency 's tone and attitude in the House of Commons 
'had been already decisive. The breach between them 
was complete. 

He put the sheets down at last, groaning within 
himself. Fustian and emptiness! What would ever 
give him back his old self-confidence, the gay whole- 
heartedness with which he had entered Parliament? 
But the thing had to be done, and he had done it ef- 
ficiently. Moreover, the brain-exercise had acted as 
[ 44 ] 


a tonic ; his tension of nerve had returned. He stood 
beside the window once more, looking out into a fast- 
awakening London with an absent and frowning eye. 
He was thinking out the next few hours. 

A little after eight Letty was roused from a rest- 
less sleep by the sound of a closing door. She rang 
hastily, and Grier appeared. 

'Who was that went out?' 

'Sir George, my lady. He's just dressed and left 
word that he had gone to take a packet to the Pall 
Mall office. He said it must be there early, and he 
would breakfast at his club/ 

Letty sat up in bed, and bade Grier draw the cur- 
tains, and be quick in bringing her what she wanted. 
The maid glanced inquisitively, first at her mistress's 
haggard looks, then at the writing-table, as she passed 
it on her way to draw the blinds. The table was lit- 
tered with writing-materials; some torn sheets had 
been transferred to the waste-paper basket, and a 
sealed letter was lying, address downwards, on the 
blotting book. Letty, however, did not encourage her 
to talk. Indeed, she found herself sent away, and 
her mistress dressed without her. 

Half an hour later Letty in her hat and cape 
slipped out of her room. She looked over the banis- 
ters into the hall. No one was to be seen, and she 
ran downstairs to the hall-door, which closed softly 
behind her. Five minutes later a latch-key turned 
quietly in the lock, and Letty reappeared. She went 
rapidly up to her room, a pale, angry ghost, glancing 
from side to side. 

[ 45 ] 


'Is Lady Maxwell at home?' 

The butler glanced doubtfully at the inquirer. 

'Sir George Tressady, I believe, sir? I will go and 
ask, if you will kindly wait a moment. Her ladyship 
does not generally see visitors in the morning/ 

'Tell her, please, that I have brought a parcel to 
return to her/ 

The butler retired, and shortly appeared at the 
corner of the stairs beckoning to the visitor. George 

They passed through the outer drawing-room, and 
the servant drew aside the curtain of the inner room. 
Was it February again? The scent of hyacinth and 
narcissus seemed to be floating round him. 

There was a hasty movement, and a tall figure came 
with a springing step to meet him. 

'Sir George! How kind of you to come! I wish 
Maxwell were in. He would have enjoyed a chat with 
you so much. But Lord Ardagh sent him a note at 
breakfast-time, and he has just gone over to Downing 
Street. Hallin, move your puzzle a little, and make 
a way for Sir George to pass. Will you sit there?' 

Hallin sprang up readily enough at the sight of his 
friend Sir George, put a fat hand into his, and then 
gave his puzzle-map of Europe a vigorous push to 
one side that drove Crete helplessly into the arms of 
the United Kingdom. 

'Oh! what a muddle!' cried his mother, laughing, 
and standing to look at the disarray. 'You must try, 
Hallin, and see if you can straighten it out as Sir 
George straightened out father's Bill for him last 

[ 46 ] 


She turned to him; but the softness of her eyes 
was curiously veiled. It struck George at once that 
she was not at her ease that there had been embar- 
rassment in her very greeting of him. 

They began to talk of the debate. She asked him 
minutely about the progress of the combination that 
had defeated Fontenoy. They discussed this or that 
man's attitude, or they compared the details of the 
division with those of the divisions which had gone 

All through it seemed to Tressady that the person 
sitting in his chair and talking politics was a kind of 
automaton, with which the real George Tressady had 
very little to do. The automaton wore a grey sum- 
mer suit, and seemed to be talking shrewdly enough, 
though with occasional lapses and languors. The 
real Tressady sat by, and noted what passed. 'How 
pale she is ! She is not really happy or triumphant. 
How she avoids all personal talk nothing to be said, 
or hardly, of my part in it my effort. Ah ! she praises 
my speech, but with no warmth I see ! she would rather 
not owe such a debt to me. Her mind is troubled per- 
haps Maxwell ? or some vile talk ?' 

Meanwhile, all that Marcella perceived was that 
the man beside her became gradually more restless 
and more silent. She sat near him, with Hallin at 
her feet, her beautiful head held a little stiffly, her 
eyes at once kind and reserved. Nothing could have 
been simpler than her cool grey dress, her quiet atti- 
tude. Yet it seemed to him he had never felt her 
dignity so much a moral dignity, infinitely subtle 
and exquisite, which breathed not only from her face 


and movements, but from the room about her the 
room which held the pictures she loved, the books 
she read, the great pots of wild-flowers or branching 
green it was her joy to set like jewels in its shady 
corners. He looked round it from time to time. It 
had for him the associations and the scents of a 
shrine, and he would never see it again! His heart 
swelled within him. The strange double sense died 

Presently, Hallin, having put his puzzle safely into 
its box, ran off to his lessons. His mother looked 
after him, wistfully. And he had no sooner shut the 
door than Tressady bent forward. ' You see I 
thought it out!' 

'Yes indeed!' she said, 'and to some purpose.' 

But her voice was uncertain, and veiled like her 
eyes. Something in her reluctance to meet him, to 
talk it over, both alarmed and stung him. What was 
wrong? Had she any grievance against him? Had 
he so played his part as to offend her in any way? He 
searched his memory anxiously, his self-control, that 
he had been so sure of, failing him fast. 

' It was a strange finish to the session was n't it? ' 
he said, looking at her. 'We did n't think it would 
end so, when we first began to argue. What a queer 
game it all is ! Well, my turn of it will have been 
exciting enough though short. I can't say, how- 
ever, that I shall much regret putting down the cards. 
I ought never to have taken a hand.' 

She turned to him, in flushed dismay. 

'You are thinking of leaving Parliament? But why 
-why should you?' 

[ 48 ] 


'Oh yes! I am quite clear about that,' he said, 
deliberately. ' It was not yesterday only. I am of no 
use in Parliament: And the only use it has been to 
me, is to show me that well ! that I have no 
party really, and no convictions. London has been 
a great mistake. I must get out of it if only lest 
my private life should drift on a rock and go to pieces. 
So far as I know it has brought me one joy only, one 
happiness only to know you ! ' 

He turned very pale. The hand that was lying on 
her lap suddenly shook. She raised it hastily, took 
some flowers out of a jar of poppies and grass that 
was standing near, and nervously put them back 
again. Then she said gently, almost timidly : 

'I owe a great deal to your friendship. My mind 

- please believe it is full of thanks. I lay awake 

last night, thinking of all the thousands of people 

that speech of yours would save all the lives that 

hang upon it/ 

'I never thought of them at all/ he said, abruptly. 
His heart seemed to be beating in his throat. 

She shrank a little. Evidently her presence of mind 
failed her, and he took advantage. 

'I never thought of them/ he repeated, 'or, at 
least, they weighed with me as nothing compared with 
another motive. As for the thing itself, by the time 
yesterday arrived I had given up my judgement to 
yours I had simply come to think that what you 
wished was good. A force I no longer questioned drove 
me on to help you to your end. That was the whole 
secret of last night. The rest was only means to a 

[ 49 ] 


But he paused. He saw that she was trembling - 
that the tears were in her eyes. 

'I have been afraid/ she said, trying hard for com- 
posure --'it has been weighing upon me all through 
these hours that I had been putting a claim a 
claim of my own forward/ It seemed hardly possible 
for her to find the words. 'And I have been realising 
the issues for you, feeling bitterly that I had done a 
great wrong if it were not a matter of conviction - 
in in wringing so much from a friend. This morn- 
ing everything, the victory, the joy of seeing hard 
work bear fruit, it has all been blurred to me/ 

He gazed at her a moment fixing every feature, 
every line upon his memory. 

'Don't let it be/ he said, quietly, at last. 'I have 
had my great moment. It does not fall to many to 
feel as I felt for about an hour last night. I had seen 
you in trouble and anxiety for many weeks. I was 
able to brush them away, to give you relief and joy, 
at least, I thought I was' --he drew himself up 
with a half-impatient smile. 'Sometimes I suspected 
that that your kindness might be troubled about 
me ; but I said to myself, "that will pass away, and the 
solid thing the fact will remain. She longed for 
this particular thing. She shall have it. And if the 
truth is as she supposes it why not? there are 
good men and keen brains with her what has been 
done will go on gladdening and satisfying her year 
by year. As for me, I shall have acknowledged, shall 
have repaid - 

He hesitated paused looked up. 

A sudden terror seized her her lips parted. 
[ 50 ] 


'Don't don't say these things!' she said, im- 
ploring, lifting her hand. It was like a child flinching 
from a punishment. 

He smiled unsteadily, trying to master himself, to 
find a way through the tumult of feeling. 

'Won't you listen to me?' he said at last; 'I shan't 
ever trouble you again/ 

She could make no reply. Intolerable gratitude 
and pain held her, and he went on speaking, gazing 
straight into her shrinking face. 

'It seems to me/ he said, slowly, 'the people who 
grow up in the dry and mean habit of mind that 
I grew up in, break through in all sorts of different 
ways. Art and religion I suppose they change and 
broaden a man. I don't know. I am not an artist 
-and religion talks to me of something I don't 
understand. To me, to know you has broken down 
the walls, opened the windows. It always used to 
come natural to me well! to think of people, to 
look for the mean, ugly things in them, especially in 
women. The only people I admired were men of ac- 
tion soldiers, administrators; and it often seemed 
to me that women hampered and belittled them. 
I said to myself, one mustn't let women count for 
too much in one's life. And the idea of women troub- 
ling their heads with politics, or social difficulties, 
half-amused, half- disgusted me. At the same time 
I was all with Fontenoy in hating the usual philan- 
thropic talk about the poor. It seemed to be lead- 
ing us to mischief I thought the greater part of it 
insincere. Then I came to know you. And, after 
all, it seemed a woman could talk of public things, 
t 51 ] 


and still be real the humanity did n't rub off, the 
colour stood! It was easy, of course, to say that 
you had a personal motive other people said it, and 
I should have liked to echo it. But from the begin- 
ning I knew that did n't explain it. All the women/ 
he checked himself, 'most of the women I had 
ever known judged everything by some petty personal 
standard. They talked magnificently, perhaps, but 
there was always something selfish and greedy at 
bottom. Well, I was always looking for it in you! 
Then, instead, suddenly, I found myself anxious 
lest what I said should displease or hurt you lest 
you should refuse to be my friend. I longed, desper- 
ately to make you understand me and then, after 
our talks, I hated myself for posing, and going further 
than was sincere. It was so strange to me not to be 
scoffing and despising/ 

Marcella woke from her trance of pain looked at 
him with amazement. But the sight of him a man, 
with the perspiration on his brow, struggling now to 
tell the bare truth about himself and his plight - 
silenced her. She hung towards him again, as pale 
as he, bearing what fate had sent her. 

'And ever since that day/ he went on, putting his 

hand over his eyes, 'when you walked home with 

me along the river, to be with you, to watch you, to 

puzzle over you, has built up a new self in me, that 

strains against and tears the old one. So these things 

these heavenly, exquisite things that some men 

talk of this sympathy, and purity, and sweetness - 

were true! They were true because you existed - 

because I had come to know something of your nature 

[ 52 ] 


- had come to realise what it might be for a man 
to have the right ' 

He broke off, and buried his face in his hands, 
murmuring incoherent things. Marcella rose hur- 
riedly, then stood motionless, her head turned from 
him, that she might not hear. She felt herself stifled 
with rising tears. Once or twice she began to speak, 
and the words died away again. At last she said, 
bending towards him : 

'I have done very ill very, very ill. I have been 
thinking all through of my personal want of per- 
sonal victory. 7 

He shook his head, protesting. And she hardly 
knew how to go on. But suddenly the word of nature, 
the truth, came; though in the speaking it startled 
them both. 

'Sir George!' --she put out her hand timidly and 
touched him 'may I tell you what I am thinking 
of? Not of you, nor of me of another person alto- 

He looked up. 

'My wife?' he said, almost in his usual voice. 

She said nothing; she was struggling with herself. 
He got up abruptly, walked to the open window, 
stood there a few seconds, and came back. 

'It has to be all thought out again/ he said, looking 
at her appealingly . ' I must go away, perhaps and 
realise what can be done. I took marriage as care- 
lessly as I took everything else. I must try and do 
better with it.' 

A sudden perception leapt in Marcella, revealing 
strange worlds. How she could have hated with 
[ 53 ] 


what fierceness, what flame ! the woman who taught 
ideal truths to Maxwell! She thought of the little 
self-complacent being in the white satin wedding- 
dress, that had sat beside her at Castle Luton- 
thought of her with overwhelming soreness and pain. 
Stepping quickly, her tears driven back, she went 
across the room to Tressady. 

'I don't know what to say/ she began, stopping 
suddenly beside him, and leaning her hand for support 
on a table while her head drooped. ' I have been very 
selfish very blind. But may n't it be the be- 
ginning of something quite quite different? 
I was thinking only of Maxwell or myself. But I 
ought to have thought of you of my friend. I ought 
to have seen but oh! how could I!' She broke 
off, wrestling with this amazing difficulty of choosing, 
amid all the thoughts that thronged to her lips, some- 
thing that might be said and if said, might heal. 
But before he could interrupt her, she went on : ' The 
harm was, in acting all through by myself as 
if only you and I, and Maxwell's work were con- 
cerned. If you and he had known each other better 

- if I had remembered had thought - 

But she stopped again, in a kind of bewilderment. 
In truth she did not yet understand what had hap- 
pened to her how it could have happened to her 

- to her, whose life, soul and body, was all Maxwell's, 
his possession, his chattel. 

Tressady looked at her with a little sad smile. 

'It was your unconsciousness/ he said, in a low 
voice, 'of what you are and have that was so 

[ 54 ] 


Somehow the words recalled her natural dignity, 
her noble pride as Maxwell's wife. She stood erect, 
composure and self-command returning. She was not 
her own, to humble herself as she pleased. 

'We must never talk to each other like this again/ 
she said, gently, after a little pause. 'We must try 
and understand each other the real things in each 
other's lives. - - Don't lay a great remorse on me, Sir 
George! don't spoil your future, and your wife's 
don't give up Parliament ! You have great, great gifts ! 
All this will seem just a passing misunderstanding 
both to you and me by and by. We shall learn 
to be real friends you and I together?' 

She looked at him appealing her face one prayer. 

But he, flushing, shook his head. 

' I must not come into your world/ he said, huskily. 
'I must go/ 

The wave of grief rolled upon her again. She turned 
away, looking across the room with wide dim eyes, as 
though asking for some help that did not come. 

Tressady walked quickly back to the chair where 
he had been sitting, and took up his hat and gloves. 
Suddenly, as he looked back to her, he struck one of 
the gloves across his hand. 

'What a coward what a mean whining wretch I 
was to come to you this morning! I said to myself 
- like a hypocrite that I could come and go - 
without a word. My God if I had!' the low, 
hoarse voice became a cry of pain ' I might still 
have taken some joy ' 

He wrestled with himself. 

'It was mad selfishness/ he said at last, recovering 
[ 55 ] 


himself by a fierce effort. 'Mad it must have been 
or I could never have come here to give you pain. 
Some demon drove me. Oh, forgive me ! forgive 
me! Good-bye! I shall bless you while I live. But 
you you must never think of me, never speak of 
me again/ 

She felt his grasp upon her fingers. He stooped, 
passionately kissed her hand and a fold of her dress. 
She rose hurriedly; but the door had closed upon him 
before she had found her voice or choked down the 
sob in her throat. 

She could only drop back into her chair, weeping 
silently, her face hidden in her hands. 

A few minutes passed. There was a step outside. 
She sprang up and listened, ready to fly to the win- 
dow and hide herself among the curtains. Then the 
colour flooded into her cheek. She waited. Maxwell 
came in. He, too, looked disturbed, and as he en- 
tered the room he thrust a letter into his pocket, 
almost with violence. But when his eyes fell on his 
wife a pang seized him. He hurried to her, and she 
leant against him, saying in a sobbing voice : 

'George Tressady has been here. I seem to have 
done him a wrong and his wife. I am not fit to 
help you, Aldous. I do such rushing, blind, foolish 
things and all that one hoped and worked for turns 
to mere selfishness and misery. Whom shall I hurt 
next? You, perhaps you !' 

And she clung to him in despair. 

A few minutes later the husband and wife were in 
conference together, Marcella sitting, Maxwell stand- 
[ 56 ] 


ing beside her. Marcella's tears had ceased ; but never 
had Maxwell seen her so overwhelmed, so sad, and 
he felt half-ashamed of his own burning irritation 
and annoyance with the whole matter. 

Clearly, what he had dimly foreseen on the night 
of her return from the Mile-End meeting had hap- 
pened. This young man, ill-balanced, ill-mated, yet 
full of a sensitive ability and perception, had fallen in 
love with her; and Maxwell owed his political salva- 
tion to his wife's charm. 

The more he loved her, the more odious the situa- 
tion was to him. That any rational being should have 
even the shred of an excuse for regarding her as the 
political coquette, using her beauty for a personal 
end, struck him as a kind of sacrilege, and made him 
rage inwardly. Nevertheless, the idea struck him 
struck and kindled him all at once that the very 
perfectness of this tie that bound them together weak- 
ened her somewhat as a woman in her dealing with 
the outside world. It withdrew from her some of a 
woman's ordinary intuitions with regard to the men 
around her. The heart had no wants, and therefore 
no fears. To any man she liked she was always ready, 
as she came to know him, to show her true self with 
a freedom and loveliness that were like the freedom 
and loveliness of a noble child. To have supposed that 
such a man could have any feelings towards her other 
than those she gave to her friends would have seemed 
to her a piece of ill-bred vanity. Such contingencies 
lay outside her ken ; she would have brushed them 
away with a laughing contempt had they been pre- 
sented to her. Her life was at once too happy and 
[ 57 ] 


too busy for such things. How could any one fall in 
love with Aldous's wife? Why should they? if one 
was to ask the simplest question of all. 

Yet Maxwell, as he stood looking down upon her, 
conscious of a certain letter in his inner pocket, felt 
with growing yet most unwilling determination that 
he must somehow try and make her turn her eyes 
upon this dingy world and see it as it is. 

For it was not the case merely of a spiritual drama 
in which a few souls, all equally sincere and void of 
offence, were concerned. That, in Maxwell's eyes, 
would have been already disagreeable and tragic 
enough. But here was this keen, spiteful crowd of 
London society watching for what it might devour - 
those hateful newspapers! not to speak of the 
ordinary fool of everyday life. 

There had not been wanting a number of small 
signs and warnings. The whole course of the previ- 
ous day's debate, the hour of Tressady's speech, while 
Maxwell sat listening in the Speaker's Gallery over- 
head, had been for him for her, too poisoned by 
a growing uneasiness, a growing distaste for the tri- 
umph laid at their feet. She had come down to him 
from the Ladies' Gallery pale and nervous, shrinking 
almost from the grasp of his hand. 

'What will happen? Has he made his position in 
Parliament impossible?' she had said to him as they 
stood together for a moment in the Home Secretary's 
room; and he understood, of course, that she was 
speaking of Tressady. In the throng that presently 
overwhelmed them he had no time to answer her ; but 
he believed that she, too, had been conscious of the 
[ 58 ] 


peculiar note in some of the congratulations showered 
upon them on their way through the crowded corri- 
dors and lobbies. On the steps of St. Stephen's en- 
trance an old white-haired gentleman, the friend and 
connexion of Maxwell's father, had clapped the suc- 
cessful Minister on the back, with a laughing word in 
his ear : ' Upon my word, Aldous, your beautiful lady 
is a wife to conjure with! I hear she has done the 
whole thing educated the young man, brought him 
to his bearings, spoilt all Fontenoy's plans, broken up 
the group, in fact. Glorious ! ' and the old man looked 
with eyes half-sarcastic, half -admiring at the form of 
Lady Maxwell standing beside the carriage-door. 

'I imagine the group has broken itself up/ said 
Maxwell, shortly, shaking off his tormentor. But as 
he glanced back from the carriage-window to the 
crowded doorway, and the faces looking after them, 
the thought of the talk that was probably passing 
amid the throng set every nerve on edge. 

Meanwhile she sat beside him, unconsciously a little 
more stately than usual, but curiously silent till at 
last, as they were nearing Trafalgar Square, she threw 
out her hand to him, almost timidly : 

'You do rejoice?' 

'I do,' he said, with a long breath, pressing the 
hand. 'I suppose nothing ever happens as one has 
foreseen it. .How strange, when one looks back to 
that Sunday!' 

She made no reply, and since then Tressady's name 
had been hardly mentioned between them. They had 
discussed every speech but his even when the morn- 
ing papers came, reflecting the astonishment and ex- 
[ 59 ] 


citement of the public. The pang in Marcella's mind 
was --'Aldous thinks I asked a personal favour- 
Did ir And memory would fall back into anxious 
recapitulation of the scene with Tressady. Had she 
indeed pressed her influence with him too much - 
taken advantage of his parliamentary youth and in- 
experience? In the hours of the night that followed 
the division, merely to ask the question tormented a 
conscience as proud as it was delicate. 

And now! this visit this incredible declaration 
this eagerness for his reward ! Maxwell's contempt 
and indignation were rising fast. Mere chivalry, mere 
decent manners even, he thought, might have deterred 
a man from such an act. Meanwhile, in rapid flashes 
of thought he began to debate with himself how he 
should use this letter in his pocket this besmirching, 
degrading letter. 

But Marcella had much more to say. Presently she 
roused herself from her trance and looked at her 

'AldousF --she touched him on the arm, and he 
turned to her gravely - ' There was one moment at 
Mile End, when when I did play upon his pity - 
his friendship. He came down to Mile End on Thurs- 
day night. I told you. I saw he was unhappy un- 
happy at home. He wanted sympathy desperately. 
I gave it him. Then I urged him to throw himself 
into his public work to think out this vote he was 
to give. Oh! I don't know! I don't know' - - she 
broke off, in a depressed voice, shaking her head 
slowly ' I believe I threw myself upon his feelings 
[ 60 ] 


- 1 felt that he was very sympathetic, that I had a 
power over him it was a kind of bribery/ 

Her brow drooped under his eye. 

'I believe you are quite unjust to yourself/ he said, 
unwillingly. 'Of course, if any man chooses to mis- 
interpret a confidence - 

'No/ she said, steadily. 'I knew. It was quite 
different from any other time. I remember how un- 
comfortable I felt afterwards. I did try to influence 
him just through being a woman. There ! it is 
quite true/ 

He could not withdraw his eyes from hers from 
the mingling of pride, humility, passion, under the 
dark lashes. 

'And if you did, do you suppose that / can blame 
you?' he said, slowly. 

He saw that she was holding an inquisition in her 
own heart, and looking to him as judge. How could 
he judge? whatever there might be to judge. He 
adored her. 

For the moment she did not answer him. She 
clasped her hands round her knees, thinking aloud. 

' From the beginning, I remember I thought of him 
as somebody quite new and fresh to what he was do- 
ing somebody who would certainly be influenced 
who ought to be influenced. And then' --she raised 
her eyes again, half -shrinking 'there was the feel- 
ing, I suppose, of personal antagonism to Lord Fon- 
tenoy ! One could not be sorry to detach one of his 
chief men. Besides, after Castle Luton, George Tres- 
sady was so attractive! You did not know him, Al- 
dous ; but to talk to him stirred all one's energies ; it 
[ 61 ] 


was a perpetual battle one took it up again and 
again, enjoying it always. As we got deeper in the 
fight I tried never to think of him as a member of 
Parliament often I stopped myself from saying 
things that might have persuaded him, as far as the. 
House was concerned. And yet, of course' --her 
face, in its nobility, took a curious look of hardness - 
' I did know all the time that he was coming to think 
more and more of me to depend on me. He dis- 
liked me at first afterwards he seemed to avoid me 
then I felt a change. Now I see I thought of him 
all along just in one capacity in relation to what I 
wanted whether I tried to persuade him or no. 
And all the time ' 

A cloud of pain effaced the frown. She leant her 
head against her husband's arm. 

'Aldous!' her voice was low and miserable - 
'what can his wife have felt towards me? I never 
thought of her after Castle Luton she seemed to me 
such a vulgar, common little being. Surely! if they 
are so unhappy, it can't be my doing; there was 
cause enough ' 

Nothing could have been more piteous than the 
tone. It was laden with the remorse that only such a 
nature could feel for such a cause. Maxwell's hand 
touched her head tenderly. A variety of expressions 
crossed his face, then a sharp flash of decision. 

' Dear ! I think you ought to know. She has written 
to me.' 

Marcella sprang up. Face and neck flushed crim- 
son. She threw him an uncertain look, the nostrils 

[ 62 ] 


'Will you show me the letter?' 

He hesitated. On his first reading of it he had vowed 
to himself that she should never see it. But since her 
confessions had begun to make the matter clearer to 
him, a moral weight had pressed upon him. She must 
realise her power, her responsibility ! Moreover, they 
two, with conscience and good sense to guide them, 
had got to find a way out of this matter. He did not 
feel that he could hide the letter from her if there 
was to be common action and common understand- 

So he gave it to her. 

She read it pacing up and down, unconscious sounds 
of pain and protest forcing themselves to her lips 
from time to time, which made it very difficult for 
him to stand quietly where he was. On that effusion 
of gall and bitterness poor Letty had spent her sleep- 
less night. Every charge that malice could bring, 
every distortion that jealousy could apply to the sim- 
plest incident, every insinuation that, judged by her 
own standard, had seemed to her most likely to work 
upon a husband Letty had crowded them all into 
the mean, ill-written letter the letter of a shopgirl 
trying to rescue her young man from the clutches of 
a rival. 

But every sentence in it was a stab to Marcella. 
When she had finished it she stood with it in her hand 
beside her writing-table, looking absently through the 
window, pale, and deep in thought. Maxwell watched 

When her moment of consideration broke, her look 
swept round to him. 

[ 63 ] 


' I shall go to her/ she said, simply. 'I must see 

Maxwell pondered. 

'I think/ he said, reluctantly, 'she would only 
repulse and insult you/ 

'Then it must be borne. It cannot end so/ 

She walked up to him and let him draw his arm 
about her. They stood in silence for a minute or two. 
When she raised her head again, her eyes sought his 

' Aldous, help me ! If we cannot repair this mischief, 
you and I, what are we worth? I will tell you 
my plan - 

There was a sound at the door. Husband and wife 
moved away from each other as the butler entered. 

'My lord, Mrs. Allison and Lord Fontenoy are in 
the library. They asked me to say that they wish to 
consult your lordship on something very urgent. I 
told them I thought your lordship was engaged, but 
I would come and see/ 

Marcella and Maxwell looked at each other. An- 
coats! No doubt the catastrophe so long staved off 
had at last arrived. Maxwell's stifled exclamation 
was the groan of the overworked man who hardly 
knows how to find mind enough for another anxiety. 
But a new and sudden light shone in his wife's face. 
She turned to the servant almost with eagerness : 

'Please tell Mrs. Allison and Lord Fontenoy to 
come up/ 


JL HE door opened silently, and there came in a figure 
that for a moment was hardly recognised by either 
Maxwell or his wife. Shrunken, pale, and grief- 
stricken, Ancoats's poor mother entered, her eye seek- 
ing eagerly for Maxwell, perceiving nothing else. She 
was in black, her veil hurriedly thrown back, and the 
features beneath it were all blurred by distress and 

Marcella hurried to her. Mrs. Allison took her 
hand in both her own with the soft, appealing motion 
habitual to her, then said hastily, still looking at 
Maxwell : 

'Maxwell, the boy has gone. He left me two days 
ago. This morning, in my trouble, I sent for Lord 
Fontenoy, my kind, kind friend. And he persuaded 
me to come to you at once. I begged him to come 

She glanced timidly from one to the other, implying 
many things. 

But even with this preface, Maxwell's greeting of 
his defeated antagonist was ceremony itself. The 
natural instinct of such a man is to mask victory in 
courtesy. But a paragraph that morning in Fonte- 
noy's paper a paragraph that he happened to have 
seen in Lord Ardagh's room had appealed to an- 
other natural instinct, stronger and more primitive. It 
amazed him that even this emergency and Mrs. Alii- 
[ 65 ] 


son's persuasions could have brought the owner of the 
paper within his doors on this particular morning. 

Fontenoy, immersed in the correspondence of the 
morning, had not yet chanced to see the paragraph, 
which was Harding Watton's. Yet, if he had, he 
could not have shown a more haughty and embar- 
rassed bearing. He was there under a compulsion he 
did not know how to resist, a compulsion of tears and 
grief; but the instinct for manners, which so often 
upon occasion serves the man of family, as well, al- 
most, as good feeling or education may serve another, 
had been for the time weakened in him by the vio- 
lences and exhaustion of the political struggle, and 
he did not feel certain that he could trust himself. 
He was smarting still through every nerve, and the 
; greeting especially that Maxwell's tall wife extended 
to him was gall and bitterness. She meanwhile, as 
she advanced towards him, was mostly struck with 
the perfection of his morning dress. The ultra -cor- 
rectness and strict fashion that he affected in these 
matters were generally a surprise to those who knew 
him only by reputation. 

After five minutes' question and answer the Max- 
wells understood something of the situation. A serv- 
ant of Ancoats's had been induced to disclose what he 
knew. There could be no question that the young 
fellow had gone off to Normandy, where he possessed 
a chdlet close to Trouville, in the expectation that his 
fair lady would immediately join him there. She had 
not yet started. So much Fontenoy had already as- 
certained. But she had thrown up a recent engage- 
ment within the last few days, and before Ancoats's 
[ 66 ] 


flight all Fontenoy's information had pointed to the 
likelihood of a coup of some sort. As for the boy him- 
self, he had left his mother at Castle Luton, three 
days before, on the pretext of a Scotch visit, and had 
instead taken the evening train to Paris, leaving a 
letter for his mother in which the influence of certain 
modern French novels of the psychological kind could 
perhaps be detected. ' The call of the heart that drives 
me from you/ wrote this incredible young man, 'is 
something independent of myself. I wring my hands, 
but I follow where it leads. Love has its crimes, 
that I admit, but they are the only road to experi- 
ence. And experience is all I care to live for ! At any 
rate, I cannot accept the limits that you, mother, 
would impose upon me. Each of us must be content 
to recognise the other's personality. I have tried to 
reconcile you to an affection that must be content 
to be irregular. You repel it and me, under the in- 
fluence of a bigotry in which I have ceased to believe. 
Suffer me, then, to act for myself in this respect. At 
any time that you like to call upon me I will be your 
dutiful son, so long as this matter is not mentioned 
between us. And let me implore you not to bring in 
third persons. They have already done mischief 
enough. Against them I should know how to protect 

Maxwell returned the letter with a disgust he could 
hardly repress. Everything in it seemed to him as 
pinchbeck as the passion itself. Mrs. Allison took it 
with the same miserable look, which had in it, Marcella 
noticed, a certain strange sternness, as of some frail 
creature nerving itself to desperate things. 
[ 67 ] 


'Now what shall we do?' said Maxwell, abruptly. 

Fontenoy moved forward. 'I presume you still 
command the same persons you set in motion before? 
Can you get at them to-day?' 

Maxwell pondered. 'Yes, the clergyman. The 
solicitor-brother is too far away. Your idea is to stop 
the girl from crossing?' 

'If it were still possible/ Fontenoy dropped his 
voice, and his gesture induced Maxwell to follow him 
to the recess of a distant window. 

'The chief difficulty, perhaps/ said Fontenoy, re- 
suming, 'concerns the lad himself. His mother, you 
will understand, cannot run any risk of being brought 
in contact with that woman. Nor is she physically 
fit for the voyage ; but some one must go, if only to 
content her. There has been some wild talk of suicide, 
apparently mere bombast, of course, like so much 
of it, but she has been alarmed/ 

'Do you propose, then, to go yourself?' 

'I am of no use,' said Fontenoy, decisively. 

Maxwell had cause to know that the statement was 
true, and did not press him. They fell into a rapid 

Meanwhile, Marcella had drawn Mrs. Allison to the 
sofa beside her, and was attempting a futile task of 
comfort. Mrs. Allison answered in monosyllables, 
glancing hither and thither. At last she said in a low, 
swift voice, as though addressing herself, rather than 
her companion, ' If all fails, I have made up my mind. 
I shall leave his house. I can take nothing more from 

Marcella started. 'But that would deprive you of 
[ 68 ] 


all chance, all hope of influencing him/ she said, her 
eager, tender look searching the other woman's face. 

' No ; it would be my duty/ said Mrs. Allison, simply, 
crossing her hands upon her lap. Her delicate blue 
eyes, swollen with weeping, the white hair, of which a 
lock had escaped from its usual quiet braids and hung 
over her blanched cheeks, her look at once saintly 
and indomitable every detail of her changed aspect 
made a chill and penetrating impression. Marcella 
began to understand what the Christian might do, 
though the mother should die of it. 

Meanwhile she watched the two men at the other 
side of the room, with a manifest eagerness for their 
return. Presently, indeed, she half -rose and called : 


Lord Maxwell turned. 

'Are you thinking of some one who might go to 
Trouville?' she asked him. 

'Yes, but we can hit on no one/ he replied, in 

She moved towards him, bearing herself with a 
peculiar erectness and dignity. 

'Would it be possible to ask Sir George Tressady to 
go?' she said, quietly. 

Maxwell looked at her open-mouthed for an instant. 
Fontenoy, behind him, threw a sudden, searching 
glance at the beautiful figure in grey. 

'We all know/ she said, turning back to the mother, 
' that Ancoats likes Sir George/ 

Mrs. Allison shrank a little from the clear look. 
Fontenoy's rage of defeat, however modified in her 
presence, had nevertheless expressed itself to her in 
I 69 ] 


phrases and allusions that had both perplexed and 
troubled her. Had Marcella indeed made use of her 
beauty to decoy a weak youth from his allegiance? 
And now she spoke his name so simply. 

But the momentary wonder died from the poor 
mother's mind. 

'I remember/ she said, sadly, 'I remember he once 
spoke to me very kindly about my son/ 

'And he thought kindly/ said Marcella, rapidly; 
'he is kind at heart. Aldous! if Cousin Charlotte 
consents, why not at least put the case to him? He 
knows everything. He might undertake what we 
want, for her sake, for all our sakes, and it 
might succeed/ 

The swift yet calm decision of her manner com- 
pleted Maxwell's bewilderment. 

His eyes sought hers, while the others waited, con- 
scious, somehow, of a dramatic moment. Fontenoy's 
flash of malicious curiosity made him even forget, 
while it lasted, the little tragic figure on the sofa. 

'What do you say, Cousin Charlotte?' said Max- 
well at last. 

His voice was dry and business-like. Only the wife 
who watched him perceived the silent dignity with 
which he had accepted her appeal. 

He went to sit beside Mrs. Allison, stooping over 
her, while they talked in a low key. Very soon she 
had caught at Marcella's suggestion, with an energy 
of despair. 

'But how can we find him?' she said at last, look- 
ing helplessly round the room, at the very chair among 
others, where Tressady had just been sitting. 

[ 70 ] 


Maxwell felt the humour of the situation without 
relishing it. 

'Either at his own house/ he said, shortly, 'or the 
House of Commons/ 

'He may have left town this morning. Lord Fon- 
tenoy thought' --she looked timidly at her compan- 
ion ' that he would be sure to go and explain him- 
self to his constituents at once/ 

' Well, we can find out. If you give me instructions, 
- if you are sure this is what you want, we will 
find out at once. Are you sure?' 

'I can think of nothing better/ she said, with a 
piteous gesture. 'And if he goes, I have only one 
message to give him. Ancoats knows that I have 
exhausted every argument, every entreaty. Now let 
him tell my son 7 - - her voice grew firm, in spite of her 
look of anguish ' that if he insists on surrendering 
himself to a life of sin I can bear him company no 
more. I shall leave his house, and go somewhere by 
myself, to pray for him/ 

Maxwell tried to soothe her, and there was some 
half -whispered talk between them, she quietly wiping 
away her tears from time to time. 

Meanwhile, Marcella and Fontenoy sat together a 
little way off, he at first watching Mrs. Allison, she 
silent, and making no attempt to play the hostess. 
Gradually, however, the sense of her presence beside 
him, the memory of Tressady's speech, of the scene 
in the House of the night before, began to work in his 
veins with a pricking, exciting power. His family 
was famous for a certain drastic way with women; 
his father, the now old and half-insane Marquis, 


had parted from his mother while Fontenoy was still 
a child, after scenes that would have disgraced an 
inn parlour. Fontenoy himself, in his reckless youth, 
had simply avoided the whole sex, so far as its reput- 
able members were concerned ; till one woman by 
sympathy, by flattery perhaps, by the strange ming- 
ling in herself of iron and gentleness, had tamed 
him. But there were brutal instincts in his blood, 
and he became conscious of them as he sat beside 
Marcella Maxwell. 

Suddenly he broke out, bending forward, one hand 
on his knee, the other nervously adjusting the eye- 
glass without which he was practically blind. 

' I imagine your side had foreseen last night better 
than we had?' 

She drew herself together instantly. 

'One can hardly say. It was evident, wasn't it, 
that the House as a whole was surprised? Certainly, 
no one could have foreseen the numbers/ 

She met his look straight, her hand playing with 
Mrs. Allison's card. 

' Oh ! a slide of that kind once begun goes like the 
wind/ said Fontenoy. 'Well, and are you pleased 
with your Bill? not afraid of your promises of 
all the Edens you have held out?' 

'Afraid of our promises? Not at all. We shall try 
and keep them.' 

She rose as she spoke, and moved away from him, 
that she might listen to what her husband was saying. 
Fontenoy was left to reflect on the folly of a man who, 
being driven to ask a kindness of his enemy, cannot 
keep his temper in the enemy's house. Yet his temper 
[ 72 ] 


had been freshly tried since he entered it. The whole 
suggestion of Tressady's embassy was to himself gall- 
ing in the extreme. 'There is a meaning in it,' he 
thought; 'of course she thinks it will save appear- 
ances!' There was no extravagance, no calumny, 
that this cold critic of other men's fervours was not for 
the moment ready to believe. 

Nevertheless, as he threw himself back in his chair, 
and his eye caught Mrs. Allison's bent figure on the 
other side of the room, he knew that he must needs 
submit he did submit to anything that could give 
that torn heart ease. Of his two passions, one, the 
passion for politics, seemed for the moment to have 
lost itself in disgust and disappointment ; to the other 
he clung but the more strongly. Once or twice in her 
talk with Maxwell, Mrs. Allison raised her gentle eyes 
and looked across to Fontenoy. 'Are you there, my 
friend?' the glance seemed to say, and a thrill spread 
itself through the man's rugged being. Ah, well ! the 
follies of this young scapegrace must wear themselves 
out in time, and either he would marry and so free his 
mother, or he would so outrage her conscience that 
she would separate herself from him. Then would 
come other people's rewards. 

Presently, indeed, Mrs. Allison rose from her seat 
and advanced to him with hurried steps. 

'We have settled it, I think; Maxwell will do all 
he can. It seems hard to trust so much to a stranger 
like Sir George Tressady, but if he will go if 
Ancoats likes him? We must do the best, mustn't 

She raised to him her delicate, small face, in a most 


winning dependence. Fontenoy did not even attempt 

'Certainly it is not a chance to lose. May I 
suggest also' - - he looked at Maxwell 'that there is 
no time to lose?' 

'Give me ten minutes, and I am off/ said Maxwell, 
hurriedly carrying a bundle of unopened letters to a 

He looked through them, to see if anything es] 
cially urgent required him to give instructions to hi* 
secretary before leaving the house. 

'Shall I take you home?' said Fontenoy to Mrs. 

She drew her thick veil round her head and face, 
and said some tremulous words, which unconsciously 
deepened the gloom on Fontenoy 's face. Apparent!] 
they were to the effect that before going home she 
wished to see the Anglican priest in whom she espe- 
cially confided, a certain Father White, who was to all 
intents and purposes her director. For in his court- 
ship of this woman of fifty, with her curious distinc- 
tion and her ethereal charm, which years seemed only 
to increase, Fontenoy had not one rival, but two 
her son and her religion. 

Fontenoy's fingers barely touched those of Maxwell 
and his wife. As he closed the door behind Mrs. 
Allison, leaving the two together, he said to himself 
contemptuously that he pitied the husband. 

When the latch had settled, Maxwell threw down 
his letters and crossed the room to his wife. 

'I only half-understood you/ he said, a flush rising 
in his face. 'You really mean that we, on this day 
t ] 


of all days that I am to personally ask this kind- 
ness of George Tressady?' 

'I do!' she cried, but without attempting any 
caress. ' If I could only go and ask it myself ! ' 

' That would be impossible ! ' he said, quickly. 

'Then you, dear husband dear love! go and 
ask it for me ! Must we not oh ! do see it as I do ! 

- must we not somehow make it possible to be friends 
again, to wipe out that that half-hour once for all ? ' 

- she threw out her hand in an impetuous gesture. 
' If you go to him, he will feel that is what we mean 
he will understand us at once There is nothing vile 
in him nothing ! ' 

He was silent a moment; then he said: 'Let me 
understand, at least, what it is precisely that we are 
doing. Is the idea that it should be made possible for 
us all to meet again as though nothing had happened?' 

She shrank a moment from the man's common 
sense; then replied, controlling herself: 

' Only not to leave the open sore to help him to 
forget! He must know he does know' - - she held 
herself proudly 'that I have no secrets from you. 
So that when the time comes for remembering, for 
thinking it over, he will shrink from you, or hate you. 
Whereas, what I want' - - her eyes filled with tears 
' is that he should know you only that ! I ought to 
have brought it about long ago.' 

'Are you forgetting that I owe him this morning 
my political existence?' 

The voice betrayed the inner passion. 

'He would be the last person to remember it!' she 
cried. 'Why not take it quite, quite simply? ' 
[ 75 ] 


'I understand/ he said, after a long pause. 'It is 
very like you. I am not quite sure it is very wise. 
These things, to my mind, are best left to end them- 
selves. But I promised Mrs. Allison; and what you 
ask, dear, you shall have. So be it.' 

She lifted her head hastily, and was dismayed by 
the signs of agitation in him as he turned away. She 
pursued him timidly, laying her hand on his arm. 

' And then ' 

Her voice sank to its most pleading note. He 
caught her hand; but she withdrew herself in haste. 

'And then/ she went on, struggling for a smile, 
'then you and I have things to settle. Do you think 
I don't know that I have made all your work, and all 
your triumph, gall and bitterness to you do you 
think I don't know?' 

She gazed at him with a passionate intensity 
through her tears, yet by her gesture forbidding him 
to come near her. 

He stooped to her. 

'We are to talk that out, then, when I come back? 
Please give these letters to Saunders there is 
nothing of importance. I will go first to Tressady's 

Maxwell drove away through the sultry streets, his 
mind. running on his task. It seemed to him that 
politics had never put him to anything so hard. But 
he began to plan it with his usual care and precision. 
The butler who opened the door of the Upper Brook 
Street house could only say that his master was not at 

[ 76 ] 


'Shall I find him, do you imagine, at the House of 

The butler could not say. But Lady Tressady was 
in, though just on the point of going out. Should he 

But the visitor made it plain that he had no inten- 
tion of disturbing Lady Tressady, and would find out 
for himself. He left his card in the butler's hands. 

'Who was that, Kenrick?' said a sharp voice 
behind the man as the hansom drove away. Letty 
Tressady, elaborately dressed, with a huge white hat 
and lace parasol, was standing on the stairs, her pale 
face peering out of the shadows. The butler handed 
her the card, and telling him to get her a cab at once, 
she ran up again to the drawing-room. 

Meanwhile Maxwell sped on towards Westminster, 
frowning over his problem. As he drove down White- 
hall the sun brightened to a naked midday heat, throw- 
ing its cloak of mists behind it. The gilding on the 
Clock Tower sparkled in the light; even the dusty, 
airless street, with its withered planes, was on a 
sudden flooded with gaiety. Two or three official or 
parliamentary acquaintances saluted the successful 
Minister as he passed; and each was conscious of a 
certain impatience with the gravity of the well-known 
face. That a great man should not be content to look 
victory, as well as win it, seemed a kind of hypocrisy. 

In the House of Commons, a few last votes and other 
oddments of the now dying session were being pushed 
through to an accompaniment of empty benches. 
Tressady was not there, nor in the Library. Maxwell 
made his way to the upper lobby, where writing-tables 
[ 77 ] 


and materials are provided in the window-recesses for 
the use of members. 

He had hardly entered the lobby before he caught 
sight at its farther end of the long straight chin and 
fair head of the man he was in quest of. And almost 
at the same moment, Tressady, who was sitting writ- 
ing amid a pile of letters and papers, lifted his eyes 
and saw Lord Maxwell approaching. 

He started, then half-rose, scattering his papers. 
Maxwell bowed as he neared the table, then stopped 
beside it, without offering his hand. 

'I fear I may be disturbing you/ he said, with 
simple but cold courtesy. 'The fact is I have come 
down here on an urgent matter, which may perhaps 
be my excuse. Could you give me twenty minutes 
in my room?' 

'By all means/ said Tressady. He tried to put his 
papers together, but to his own infinite annoyance his 
hand shook. He seemed hardly to know what to do 
with them. 

'Do not let me hurry you/ said Maxwell, in the 
same manner. 'Will you follow me at your leisure? 7 

'I will follow you immediately/ said Tressady; 'as 
soon as I have put these under lock and key/ 

His visitor departed. Tressady remained standing 
a moment by the table, his blue eyes, unusually wide 
open, fixed absently on the river, a dark red flush over- 
spreading the face. Then he rapidly threw his papers 
together into a black bag that stood near, and walked 
with them to his locker in the wall. 

For an hour after he left Marcella Maxwell he had 
wandered blindly up and down the Green Park; at 


the end of it a sudden impulse had driven him to the 
House, as his best refuge both from Letty and him- 
self. There he found waiting for him a number of 
letters, and a sheaf of telegrams besides from his con- 
stituency, with which he had just begun to grapple 
when Maxwell interrupted him. Some hours of hard 
writing and thinking might, he thought, bring him by 
reaction to some notion of what to do with the next 
days and nights how to take up the business of his 
private life again. 

Now, as he withdrew his key from the lock, in 
a corridor almost empty of inhabitants, abstraction 
seized him once more. He leant against the wall a 
moment, with his hands in his pockets, seeing her 
face the tears on her cheek feeling the texture 
of her dress against his lips. Barely two hours ago! 
No doubt she had confided all to Maxwell in the in- 
terval. The young fellow burnt with mingled rage and 
shame. This interview with the husband seemed to 
transform it all to vaudeville, if not to farce. How 
was he to get through it with any dignity and self- 
command? Moreover, a passionate resentment to- 
wards Maxwell developed itself. His telling of his 
secret had been no matter for a common scandal, a 
vulgar jealousy. She knew that she could not have 
so misrepresented him. A sense of the situation to 
which he had brought himself on all sides made his 
pride feel itself in the grip of something that asked 
his submission. Yet why, and to whom? 

He walked along through the interminable corridors 
towards Maxwell's room in the House of Lords, a 
prey to what afterwards seemed to him the meanest 
[ 79 ] 


moment of his life. Little knowing the pledges that 
a woman had given for him, he did say to himself 
that Maxwell owed him much that he was not 
called upon to bear everything from a man he had 
given back to power. And all the time his thoughts 
built a thorn-hedge about her face, her pity. Let 
him see them no more, not even in the mirror of the 
mind. Great Heaven! what harm could such as he 
do to her? 

By the time he reached Maxwell's door he seemed 
to himself as hard and cool as usual. As he entered, 
the Minister was standing by an oriel window, over- 
looking the river, turning over the contents of a 
dispatch-box that had just been brought him. He 
advanced at once; and Tressady noticed that he had 
already dismissed his secretary. 

'Will you sit by the window?' said Maxwell. 'The 
day promises to be extraordinarily hot/ 

Tressady took the seat assigned him. Maxwell's 
grey eye ran over the young man's figure and bearing. 
Then he bent forward from a chair on the other side 
of a small writing-table. 

'You will probably have guessed the reason of my 
intrusion upon you you and I have already dis- 
cussed this troublesome affair and the kind manner 
in which you treated our anxieties then - 

'Ancoats!' exclaimed Tressady, with a start he 
could not control. 'You wish to consult me about 

A flash of wonder crossed the other's mind. 'He 
imagined - Instinctively Maxwell's opening mild- 
ness stiffened into a colder dignity. 
[ 80 ] 


'I fear we may be making an altogether improper 
claim upon you/ he said, quietly; 'but this morning, 
about an hour ago, Ancoats's mother came to us with 
the news that he had left her two days ago, and was 
now discovered to be at Trouville, where he has a 
chalet, waiting for this girl, of whom we all know, to 
join him. You will imagine Mrs. Allison's despair. 
The entanglement is in itself bad enough. But she 
- I think you know it is no ordinary woman, nor 
can she bring any of the common philosophy of life 
to bear upon this matter. It seems to be sapping her 
very springs of existence, and the impression she left 
upon myself and upon Lady Maxwell ' - he said 
the words slowly 'was one of the deepest pity and 
sorrow. As you also know, I believe, I have till now 
been able to bring some restraining influence to bear 
upon the girl, who is of course not a girl, but a very 
much-married woman, with a husband always threat- 
ening to turn up and avenge himself upon her. There 
is a good man, one of those High Church clergymen 
who interest themselves especially in the stage, who 
has helped us many times already. I have tele- 
graphed to him, and expect him here before long. 
We know that she has not yet left London, and it 
may be possible again, at the eleventh hour, to stop 
her. But that - 

'Is not enough/ said Tressady, quickly, raising 
his head. 'You want some one to grapple with An- 

Face and voice were those of another man atten- 
tive, normal, sympathetic. Maxwell observed him 

[ 81 ] 


'We want some one to go to Ancoats; to represent 
to him his mother's determination to leave him for 
good if this disgraceful affair goes on; to break the 
shock of the girl's non-arrival to him, if, indeed, we 
succeed in stopping her; and to watch him for a day 
or two, in case there should be anything in the miser- 
able talk of suicide with which he seems to have been 
threatening his mother/ 

'Oh! suicide! Ancoats!' said Tressady, throwing 
back his head. 

'We rate him, apparently, much the same,' said 
Maxwell, dryly. ' But it is not to be wondered at that 
the mother should be differently affected. She sent 
you ' the speaker paused a moment - ' what seemed 
to me a touching message/ 

Tressady bent forward. 

' " Tell him that I have no claim upon him that 
I am ashamed to ask this of him. But he once said 
some kind words to me about my son, and I know that 
Ancoats desired his friendship. His help might save 
us. I can say no more." 5 

Tressady looked up quickly, reddening involuntar- 
ily. 'Was Fontenoy there did he agree?' 

'Fontenoy agreed,' said Maxwell, in the same meas- 
ured voice. 'In fact, you grasp our petition. To 
speak frankly, my wife suggested it, and I was de- 
puted to bear it to you. But I need not say that we 
are quite prepared to find that you are not able to do 
what we have ventured to ask of you, or that your 
engagements will not permit it.' 

A strange gulp rose in Tressady 's throat. He under- 
stood oh ! he understood her perfectly. 
[ 82 ] 


He leant back in his chair, looking through the open 
window to the Thames. A breeze had risen and was 
breaking up the thunderous sky into gay spaces of 
white and blue. The river was surging and boiling 
under the tide, and strings of barges were mounting 
with the mounting water, slipping fast along the 
terrace wall. The fronts of the various buildings 
opposite rose in shadow against the dazzling blue and 
silver of the water. Here over the river, even for 
this jaded London, summer was still fresh; every 
mast and spar, every track of boat or steamer in the 
burst of light, struck the eye with sharpness and 

Each line and hue printed itself on Tressady's brain. 
Then he turned slowly to his companion. Maxwell 
sat patiently waiting for his reply ; and for the first 
time Tressady received, as it were, a full impression 
of a personality he had till now either ignored or dis- 
liked. In youth Maxwell had never passed for a hand- 
some man. But middle life and noble habit were every 
year giving increased accent and spiritual energy 
to the youth's pleasant features; and Nature, as she 
silvered the brown hair, and drove deep the lines of 
thought and experience, was bringing more than she 
took away. A quiet, modest fellow Maxwell would be 
to the end; not witty; not brilliant; more and more 
content to bear the yoke of the great commonplaces of 
life as subtlety and knowledge grew; saying nothing 
of spiritual things, only living them yet a man, it 
seemed, on whom England would more and more lay 
the burden of her fortunes. 

Tressady gazed at him, shaken with new reverences, 
[ 83 ] 


new compunctions. Maxwell's eyes were drawn to 
his mild, penetrating eyes, in which for an instant 
Tressady seemed to read what no words would ever 
say to him. Then he sprang up. 

'There is an afternoon train put on this month. I 
can catch it. Tell me, if you can, a few more de- 

Maxwell took a half-sheet of notes from his pocket, 
and the two men standing together beside the tabl< 
went with care into a few matters it was well for 
Tressady to know. Tressady threw a quick intellig- 
ence into his questions that inevitably recalled to 
Maxwell the cut-and -thrust of his speech on the pre- 
ceding evening; nor behind his rapid discussion of 
a vulgar business did the constrained emotion of his 
manner escape his companion. 

At last all was settled. At the last moment an 
uneasy question rose in Maxwell's mind. 'Ought we, 
at such a crisis, to be sending him away from his 
wife?' But he could not bring himself to put it, 
even lightly, into words, and as it happened Tressady 
did not leave him in doubt. 

'I am glad you caught me,' he said, nervously, in 
what seemed an awkward pause, while he looked for 
his hat, forgetting where he had put it. 'I was in- 
tending to leave London to-night. But my business 
can very well wait till next week. Now I think I have 

He gathered up a new Guide-Chaix that Maxwell 

had put into his hand, saw the half-sheet of notes 

was safely stowed into his pocket-book, and took up 

his hat and stick. As he spoke, Maxwell had remem- 

[ 84 ] 


bered the situation and Mrs. Allison's remark. No 
doubt Tressady had proposed to go North that night 
on a mission of explanation to his Market Malford 
constituents, and it struck one of the most scrupulous 
of men with an additional pang that he should be thus 
helping to put private motives in the way of public 
duty. But what was done was done. And it seemed 
impossible that either should speak a word of politics. 

'I ought to say/ said Tressady, pausing once more 
as they moved together towards the door, 'that I have 
not ultimately much hope for Mrs. Allison. If this 
entanglement is put aside, there will be something 
else. Trouville itself, in August, I should imagine, is 
a place of bonnes fortunes for the man who wants them, 
and Ancoats's mind runs to such things/ 

He spoke with a curious eagerness, like one who 
pleads that his good-will shall not be judged by mere 
failure or success. 

Maxwell raised his shoulders. 

'Nothing that can happen will in the least affect 
our gratitude to you,' he said, gravely. 

'Gratitude!' muttered the young man under his 
breath. His lip trembled.. He looked uncertainly at 
his companion. Maxwell did not offer his hand, yet 
as he opened the door for his visitor there was a quiet 
cordiality and kindness in his manner that made his 
renewed words of thanks sound like a strange music 
in Tressady's ears. 

When the Minister was once more alone he walked 
back to the window, and stood looking down thought- 
fully on the gay pageant of the river. She was right 
[ 85 ] 


she was always right. There was nothing vile in 
that young fellow, and his face had a look of suffering 
it pained Maxwell to remember. Why had he person- 
ally not come to know him better? 'I think too 
little of men, too much of machinery/ he said to him- 
self, despondently; 'unconsciously I leave the dealing 
with human beings far too often to her, and then I 
wonder that a man sees and feels her as she is ! ' 

Yet as he stood there in the sunshine a feeling of 
moral relief stole upon him, the feeling that rewards 
a man who has tried to deal greatly with some com- 
mon and personal strait. Some day, not yet, he 
would make Tressady his friend. He calmly felt it 
to be within his power. 

Unless the wife!-- He threw up his hand, and 
turned back to his writing-table. What was to be 
done with the letter? Had Tressady any knowledge 
of it? Maxwell could not conceive it possible that he 
had. But, no doubt, it would come to his knowledge, 
as well as Maxwell's reply. 

For he meant to reply, and as he glanced at the 
clock on his table he saw that he had just half an hour 
before his clergyman-visitor arrived. Instantly, in his 
methodical way, he sat down to his task, labouring 
it, however, with toil and difficulty, when it was once 
begun : 

The few words he ultimately wrote ran as follows : 

' Dear Lady Tressady, Your letter was a great 
surprise and a great pain to me. I believe you will 
recognise before long that you wrote it under a de- 
lusion, and that you have said in it both unkind and 
[ 86 ] 


unjust things of one who is totally incapable of wrong- 
ing you or any one else. My wife read your letter, 
for she and I have no secrets. She will try and see 
you at once, and I trust you will not refuse to see her. 
She will prove to you, I think, that you have been 
giving yourself quite needless torture, for which she 
has no responsibility, but for which she is none the 
less sorrowful and distressed. 

'I have treated your letter in this way because it 
is impossible to ignore the pain and trouble which 
drove you to write. I need not say that if it became 
necessary for me to write or act in another way, I 
should think only of my wife. But I will trust to 
the effect upon you of her own words and character; 
and I cannot believe that you will misconstrue the 
generosity that prompts her to go to you. 

'Is it not possible, also, that your misunderstand- 
ing of your husband may be in its own way as grave 
as your misunderstanding of Lady Maxwell? Forgive 
an intrusive question, and believe me, 

'Yours faithfully, 


He read it anxiously over and over, then took a 
hasty copy of it, and finally sealed and sent it. He 
was but half -satisfied with it. How was one to write 
such a letter without argument or recrimination? 
The poor thing had a vulgar, spiteful, little soul ; that 
was clear from her outpouring. It was also clear that 
she was miserable; nor could Maxwell disguise from 
himself that in a sense she had ample cause. 

When he was once more established in his room at 
[ 87 1 



the Privy Council, overwhelmed with letters, inter- 
views, and all the routine of official business, those 
who had to do with him noticed an unusual restless- 
ness in their even-tempered chief. In truth, whenever 
his work left him free for a moment, all sorts of ques- 
tions would start up in his mind: 'Is she there? Is 
that woman hurting and insulting her? Can I do 
nothing? My love! my poor love!' 

But Marcella's plans so far had not prospered. 

When George Tressady, after hastily dispatching his 
most urgent business at the House, drove up to 
his own door in the afternoon just in time to put his 
things together and catch a newly-put -on dining-train 
to Paris, he found the house deserted. The butler 
reminded him that Letty accompanied by Miss Tul- 
loch had gone to Hampton Court to join a river-party 
for the day. George remembered ; he hated the peo- 
ple she was to be with, and instinct told him that 
Cathedine would be there. 

A rush of miserable worry overcame him. Ought he 
to be leaving her? Then, in the darkness of the hall, 
he caught sight of a card lying on the table. Her 
card! Amazement made him almost dizzy, while the 
man at his arm explained. 

'Her ladyship called just after luncheon. She 
thought she would have found my lady in before 
she went out. But her ladyship is coming again, 
probably this evening, as she wished to see Lady 
Tressady particularly/ 

Tressady gave the man directions to pack for him 
immediately, then took the card into his study, and 
[ 88 ] 


stood looking at it in a tumult of feeling. Ah! let 
him begone out of her way ! Oh, heavenly goodness 
and compassion! It seemed to him already that an 
angel had trodden this dark house, and that another 
air breathed in it. 

He ran upstairs to make his last preparations, wrote 
a few lines to Letty describing Mrs. Allison's plight 
and the errand on which he was bound, and in half 
an hour was at Charing Cross. 


DID you ring, my lady?' 

'Yes. Kenrick, if Lady Maxwell calls to see me 
to-night, you will say, please, that I am particularly 
engaged, and unable to receive any one/ 

Letty Tressady had just come in from her river- 
party. Dressed in a delicate gown of lace and pale 
green chiffon, she was standing beside her writing- 
table with Lady Maxwell's card in her hand. Kenrick 
had given it to her on her arrival, together with the 
message which had accompanied it, and she had 
taken a few minutes to think it over. As she gave 
the man his order, the energy of the small figure, as 
it half-turned towards the door, the brightness of the 
eyes under the white veil she had just thrown back, 
no less than the emphasis of her tone, awakened in 
the butler the clear perception that neither the ex- 
pected visit nor his mistress's directions were to be 
taken as ordinary affairs. After he left the drawing- 
room, Grier passed him on the stairs. He gave her a 
slight signal, and the two retired to some nether region 
to discuss the secrets of their employers. 

Meanwhile Letty, having turned on the electric 
light in the room, walked to the window and set it half- 
open behind the curtain. In that way she would hear 
the carriage approaching. It was between eight and 
nine o'clock. No doubt Lady Maxwell would drive 
round after dinner. 

[ 90 ] 


Then, still holding the card lightly in her hand, she 
threw herself on the sofa. She was tired, but so ex- 
cited that she could not rest first, by the memory 
of the day that had just passed; still more by the 
thought of the rebuff she was about to administer to 
the great lady who had affronted her. No doubt her 
letter had done its work. The remembrance of it 
filled her with an uneasy joy. Did George know of it 
by now? She did not care. Lady Maxwell, of course, 
was coming to try and appease her, to hush it up. 
There had been a scene, it was to be supposed, be- 
tween her and her stiff husband. Letty gloated over 
the dream of it. Tears, humiliation, reproaches, she 
meted them all out in plenty to the woman she hated. 
Nor would things end there. Why, London was full of 
gossip! Harding's paragraph for of course it was 
Harding's had secured that. How clever of him ! 
Not a name ! not a thing that could be taken hold 
of! yet so clear. Well ! if she, Letty, was to be 
trampled on and set aside, at any rate other people- 
should suffer too. 

So George had gone off to France, leaving her alone, 
without 'Good-bye/ She did not believe a word of 
his excuse; and, if it were true, it was only another 
outrage that he should have thought twice of such a 
matter at such a crisis. But it was probably a mere 
device of his and hers she would find out for what. 

Her state of tension was too great to allow her to 
stay in the same place for more than a few minutes. 
She got up, and went to the glass before the mantel- 
piece. Taking out the pins that held her large Gains- 
borough hat, she arranged her hair with her hands, 
[ 91 ] 


putting the curls of the fringe in their right place, 
fastening up some stray ends. She had given orders, 
as we have seen, to admit no one, and was presum- 
ably going to bed. Nevertheless, her behaviour was 
instinctively the behaviour of one who expects a guest. 

When, more or less to her satisfaction, she had re- 
stored the symmetry of the little curled and crimped 
head, she took her face between her hands, and stared 
at her own reflexion. Memories of the party she had 
just left, of the hot river, the slowly filling locks, the 
revelry, the champagne, danced in her mind, especially 
of a certain walk through a wood. She defiantly 
watched the face in the glass grow red, the eyelids 
quiver. Then, like the tremor from some volcanic fire 
far within, a shudder ran through her. She dropped 
her head on her hands. She hated hated him ! Was 
it to-morrow evening she had told him he might come? 
She would go down to Ferth. 

Wheels in the quiet street! Letty flew to the win- 
dow like an excited child, her green and white twink- 
ling through the room. 

A brougham, and a tall figure in black stepping 
slowly out of it. Letty sheltered herself behind a 
curtain, held her breath, and listened. 

Presently her lower lip dropped a little. What was 
Kenrick about? The front door had closed, and Lady 
Maxwell had not re-entered her carriage. 

She opened the drawing-room door with care, and 
was stooping over the banisters when she saw Kenrick 
on the stairs. He seemed to be coming from the di- 
rection of George's study. 

'What have you been doing?' she asked him in a 


hard under- voice, looking at him angrily. ' I told you 
not to let Lady Maxwell in.' 

'I told her, my lady, that you were engaged and 
could see no one. Then her ladyship asked if she 
might write a few lines to you and send them up, ask- 
ing when you would be able to see her. So I showed 
her into Sir George's study, my lady, and she is writ- 
ing at Sir George's desk/ 

'You should have done nothing of the sort/ said 
Letty, sharply. 'What is that letter?' 

She took it from his hand before the butler, some- 
what bewildered by the responsibilities of his position, 
could explain that he had just found it in the letter- 
box, where it might have been lying some little time, 
as he had heard no knock. 

She let him go downstairs again, to await Lady 
Maxwell's exit, and herself ran back to read her 
letter, her heart beating, for the address of the sender 
was on the envelope. When she had finished she 
threw it down, half-suffocating. 

'So I am to be lectured and preached to besides. 
Good Heavens ! In his lofty manner, I suppose, that 
people talk of. Prig odious, insufferable prig ! So 
I have mistaken George, have I? My own husband! 
And insulted her her ! And she is actually down- 
stairs, writing to me, in my own house ! ' 

She locked her hands, and began stormily to pace 
the room again. The image of her rival, only a few 
feet from her, bending over George's table, worked in 
her with poisonous force. Suddenly she swept to the 
bell and rang it. A door opened downstairs. She ran 
to the landing. 

[ 93 ] 



'Yes, my lady/ She heard a pause, and the soft 
rustle of a dress. 

'Tell Lady Maxwell, please' she struggled hard 
for the right, the dignified tone 'that if it is not 
too late for her to stay, I am now able to see her/ 

She hurried back into the drawing-room and waited. 
Would she come? Letty's whole being was now throb- 
bing with one mad desire. If Kenrick let her go ! 

But steps approached ; the door was thrown open. 

Marcella Maxwell came in timidly, very pale, the 
dark eyes shrinking from the sudden light of the 
drawing-room. She was bareheaded, and wore a long 
cloak of black lace over her white evening dress. 
Letty's flash of thought as she saw her was twofold : 
first, hatred of her beauty, then triumph in the evident 
nervousness with which her visitor approached her. 

Without making the slightest change of position, 
the mistress of the house spoke first. 

'Will you please tell me/ she said, in her sharpest, 
thinnest voice, 'to what I owe the honour of this 
visit ?' 

Marcella paused halfway towards her hostess. 

' I read your letter to my husband/ she said, quietly, 
though her voice shook, 'and I thought you would 
hardly refuse to let me speak to you about it/ 

'Then perhaps you will sit down/ said Letty, in the 
same voice; and she seated herself. 

If she had wished to heighten the effect of her re- 
ception by these small discourtesies she did not suc- 
ceed. Rather, Marcella's self-possession returned 
under them. She looked round simply for a chair, 
[ 94 ] 


brought one forward within speaking distance of her 
companion, moving once more, in her thin, tall grace, 
with all that unconscious dignity Letty had so often 
envied and admired from a distance. 

But neither dignity nor grace made any bar to the 
emotion that filled her. She bent forward, clasping 
her hands on her knee. 

'Your letter to my husband made me so unhappy 
-that I could not help coming/ she said, in a tone 
that was all entreaty, all humbleness. 'Not of 
course that it seemed to either of us a true or just 
account of what had happened ' she drew herself 
up gently 'but it made me realise though indeed 
I had realised it before I read it that in my friend- 
ship with your husband I had been forgetting for- 
getting those things one ought to remember most. 
You will let me put things, won't you, in my own 
way, as they seem to me? At Castle Luton Sir George 
attracted me very much. The pleasure of talking to 
him there first made me wish to try and alter some of 
his views to bring him across my poor people to 
introduce him to our friends. Then, somehow, a special 
bond grew up between him and me with regard to this 
particular struggle in which my husband and I' 
she dropped her eyes that she might not see Letty 's 
heated face 'have been so keenly interested. But 
what I ought to have felt from the very first - 
was, that there could be, there ought to have been, 
something else added. Married people' she spoke 
hurriedly, her breath rising and falling 'are not 
two, but one and my first step should have been to 
come and and ask you to let me know you too 
[ 95 ] 


to find out what your feelings were, whether you 
wished for a friendship that that I had perhaps 
no right to offer to Sir George alone. I have been 
looking into my own heart* her voice trembled 
again 'and I see that fault, that great fault. To be 
excluded myself from any strong friendship my hus- 
band might make, would be agony to me !' The frank, 
sudden passion of her lifted eyes sent a thrill even 
through Letty's fierce and hardly kept silence. 'And 
that I wanted to say to you, first of all. I wronged my 
own conception of what marriage should be, and you 
were quite, quite right to be angry!' 

'Well, I think it's quite clear, isn't it, that you 
forgot from the beginning George had a wife?' cried 
Letty, in her most insulting voice. 'That certainly 
can't be denied. Anybody could see that at Castle 

Marcella looked at her in perplexity. What could 
suggest to her how to say the right word, touch the 
right chord? Would she be able to do more than 
satisfy her own conscience and then go, leaving this 
strange little fury to make what use she pleased of 
her visit and her avowals? 

She shaded her eyes with her hand a moment, 
thinking. Then she said : 

'Perhaps it is of no use for me to ask you to re- 
member how full our minds my husband's and 
mine have been of one subject one set of ideas. 
But, if I am not keeping you too long, I should like 
to give you an account, from my point of view, of the 
friendship between Sir George and myself. I think 
I can remember every talk of ours, from our first 
[ 96 ] 


meeting in the hospital down to down to this 

'This morning!' cried Letty, springing up. 'This 
morning ! He went to you to-day?' 

The little face convulsed with passion raised an 
intolerable distress in Marcella. 

'Yes, he came to see me/ she said, her dark eyes, 
full of pain, full, too, once more, of entreaty, fixed 
upon her interrogator. 'But do let me tell you! I 
never saw any one in deeper trouble trouble about 
you trouble about himself/ 

Letty burst into a wild laugh. 

'Of course! No doubt he went to complain of me 
- that I flirted that I ill-treated his mother that 
I spent too much money and a lot of other pleasant 
little things. Oh ! I can imagine it perfectly. Besides 
that, I suppose he went to be thanked. Well, he de- 
served that. He has thrown away his career to please 
you ; so if you did n't thank him, you ought ! Every- 
body says his position in Parliament now is n't worth 
a straw that he must resign which is delightful, 
of course, for his wife. And I saw it all from the be- 
ginning I understood exactly what you wanted to 
do at Castle Luton only I could n't believe then 
I was only six weeks married ' 

A wave of excitement and self-pity swept over her. 
She broke off with a sob. 

Marcella's heart was wrung. She knew nothing of 
the real Letty Tressady. It was the wife as such, 
slighted and set aside, that appealed to the imagina- 
tion, the remorse of this happy, this beloved woman. 
She rose quickly, she held out her hands, looking 
[ 9? ] 


down upon the little venomous creature who had been 
pouring these insults upon her. 

'Don't don't believe such things/ she said, with 
sobbing breath. 'I never wronged you consciously 
for a moment. Can't you believe that Sir George and 
I became friends because we cared for the same kind 
of questions; because I I was full of my husband's 
work and everything that concerned it; because I 
liked to talk about it, to win him friends. If it had 
ever entered my mind that such a thing could pain 
and hurt you - 

'Where have you sent him to-day?' cried Letty, 
peremptorily, interrupting her, while she drew her 
handkerchief fiercely across her eyes. 

Instantly Marcella was conscious of the difficulty of 
explaining her own impulse and Maxwell's action. 

'Sir George told me,' she said, faltering, 'that he 
must go away from London immediately, to think out 
some trouble that was oppressing him. Only a few 
minutes after he left our house we heard from Mrs. 
Allison that she was in great distress about her son. 
She came, in fact, to beg us to help her find him. I 
won't go into the story, of course; I am sure you 
know it. My husband and I talked it over. It oc- 
curred to us that if Maxwell went to him to Sir 
George and asked him to do us and her this great 
kindness of going to Ancoats and trying to bring him 
back to his mother, it would put everything on a dif- 
ferent footing. Maxwell would get to know him, as 
I had got to know him. One would find a way to 
silence the foolish, unjust things that have been 
said I suppose I don't know ' 
[ 98 ] 


She paused, confused by the difficulties in her path, 
her cheeks hot and flushed. But the heart knew its own 
innocence. She recovered herself; she came nearer. 

' If only at the same time I could make you 
realise how truly how bitterly I had felt for any 
pain you might have suffered if I could persuade 
you to look at it all your husband's conduct and 
mine in its true light, and to believe that he cares 
- he must care for nothing in the world so much 
as his home as you and your happiness!' 

The nobleness of the speaker, the futility of the 
speech, were about equally balanced! Candour was 
impossible, if only for kindness' sake. And the story, 
so told, was not only unconvincing, it was hardly 
intelligible even, to Letty. For the two personalities 
moved in different worlds, and what had seemed to 
the woman who was all delicate impulse and romance 
the natural and right course merely excited in Letty, 
and not without reason, fresh suspicion and offence. 
If words had been all, Marcella had gained nothing. 

But a strange tumult was rising in Letty's breast. 
There was something in this mingling of self-abase- 
ment with an extraordinary moral richness and dig- 
nity, in these eyes, these hands that would have so 
gladly caught and clasped her own, which began 
almost to intimidate her. She broke out again, so as 
to hold her own bewilderment at bay : 

' What right had you to send him away to plan 
anything for my husband without my consent? Oh, 
of course you put it very finely ; I dare say you know 
about all sorts of things 7 don't know about; I'm not 
clever, I don't talk politics. But I don't quite see the 


good of it, if it's only to take husbands away from 
their wives. All the same, I 'm not a hypocrite, and I 
don't mean to pretend I'm a meek saint. Far from it. 
I've no doubt that George thinks he 's been perfectly 
justified from the beginning, and that I have brought 
everything upon myself. Well ! I don't care to argue 
about it. Don't imagine, please, that I have been 
playing the deserted wife all the time. If people 
injure me, it's not my way to hold my tongue, and 
I imagine that, after all, I do understand my own 
husband, in spite of Lord Maxwell's kind remarks!' 
She pointed scornfully to Maxwell's letter on the 
table. 'But as soon as I saw that nothing I said 
mattered to George, and that his whole mind was 
taken up with your society, why, of course, I took my 
own measures! There are other men in the world 
and one of them happens to amuse me particularly 
at this moment. It's your doing and George's, you 
see, if he does n't like it!' 

Marcella recoiled in sudden horror, staring at her 
companion with wide, startled eyes. Letty braved 
her defiantly, her dry lips drawn into a miserable 
smile. She stood, looking very small and elegant, 
beside her writing-table, her hand, blazing with rings, 
resting lightly upon it, the little, hot, withered face 
alone betraying the nerve-tension behind. 

The situation lasted a few seconds, then with a 
quick step Marcella hurried to a chair on the further 
side of the room, sank into it, and covered her face 
with her hands. 

Letty's heart seemed to dip, as it were, into an 
abyss. But there was a frenzied triumph in the spec- 
[ 100 ] 


tacle of Marcella's grief and tears. Marcella Maxwell 
-thus silenced, thus subdued! The famous name, 
with all that it had stood for in Letty's mind, of 
things to be envied and desired, echoed in her ear, 
delighted her revenge. She struggled to maintain her 

'I don't know why what I said should make you 
so unhappy/ she said, coldly, after a pause. 

Marcella did not reply. Presently Letty saw that 
she was resting her cheek on her hand and gazing 
before her into vacancy. At last she turned round, 
and Letty could satisfy herself that in truth her eyes 
were wet. 

'Is there no one/ asked the full, tremulous voice, 
'whom you care for, whom you would send for now 
to advise and help you?' 

'Thank you!' said Letty, calmly, leaning against 
the little writing-table, and beating the ground slightly 
with her foot. 'I don't want them. And I don't 
know why you should trouble yourself about it.' 

But for the first time, and against its owner's will, 
the hard tone wavered. 

Marcella rose impetuously again, and came towards 

'When one thinks of all the long years of married 
life/ she said, still trembling, 'of the children that 
may come - 

Letty lifted her eyebrows. 

'If one happened to wish for them. But I don't 
happen to wish for them, never did. I dare say it 
sounds horrid. Anyway, one need n't take that into 

[ 101 ] 


'And your husband? Your husband, who must 
be miserable, whose great gifts will be all spoiled un- 
less you will somehow give up your anger and make 
peace. And instead of that, you are only thinking of 
revenging yourself, of making more ruin and pain. 
It breaks one's heart! And it would need such a 
little effort on your part, only a few words written or 
spoken, to bring him back, to end all this unhappi- 

' Oh ! George can take care of himself/ said Letty, 
provokingly; 'so can I. Besides, you have sent him 

Marcella looked at her in despair. Then silently 
she turned away, and Letty saw that she was search- 
ing for some gloves and a handkerchief she had been 
carrying in her hand when she came in. 

Letty watched her take them up, then said sud- 
denly, 'Are you going away?' 

' It is best, I think. I can do nothing/ 

'I wish I knew why you came to see me at all! 
They say, of course, you are very much in love with 
Lord Maxwell. Perhaps that made you sorry for 

Marcella's pride leapt at the mention by those lips 
of her own married life. Then she drove the pride down. 

'You have put it better than I* have been able to 
do, all the time/ Her mouth parted in a slight, sad 
smile ' Good-night/ 

Letty took no notice. She sat down on the arm of 
a chair near her. Her eyes suddenly blazed, her face 
grew dead-white. 

'Well, if you want to know- ' she said 'no, 
[ 102 ] 


don't go I don't mean to let you go just yet lam 
about the most miserable wretch going! There, you 
may take it or leave it; it's true. I don't suppose I 
cared much about George when I married him ; plenty 
of girls don't. But as soon as he began to care about 
you, just contrariness, I suppose, I began to feel 
that I could kill anybody that took him from me, and 
kill myself afterwards ! Oh, good gracious ! there was 
plenty of reason for his getting tired of me. I'm not 
the sort of person to let any one get the whip-hand 
of me, and I would spend his money as I liked, and I 
would ask the persons I chose to the house ; and, above 
all, I was n't going to be pestered with looking after 
and giving up to his dreadful mother, who made my 
life a burden to me. Oh! why do you look so white? 
Well, I dare say it does sound atrocious. I don't care. 
Perhaps you'll be still more horrified when you know 
that they came round this afternoon, when I was out 
and George was gone, to tell me that Lady Tressady 
was frightfully ill dying, I think my maid said. 
And I have n't given it another thought since not 
one till now' --she struck one hand against the 
other 'because directly afterwards the butler told 
me of your visit this afternoon, and that you were 
coming again and I was n't going to think of any- 
thing else in the world but you, and George. No, 
don't look like that, don't come near me I'm not 
mad. I assure you I'm not mad! But that's all by 
the way. What was I saying? Oh! that George 
had cause enough to stop caring about me. Of course 
he had; but if he's lost to me I shall give him a 
good deal more cause before we've done. That other 
[ 103 ] 


man you know him Cathedine gave me a kiss 
this afternoon, when we were in a wood together' - 
the same involuntary shudder overtook her, while she 
still held her companion at arm's length. 'Oh, he is 
a brute a brute ! But what do I care what happens 
to me? It's so strange I don't rather creditable, I 
think for after all I like parties, and being asked 
about. But now George hates me and let you send 
him away from me why, of course, it's all simple 
enough ! I - - Don't don't come. I shall never, 
never forgive it's just being tired - 

But Marcella sprang forward. Mercifully, there is 
a limit to nerve endurance, and Letty in her raving 
had overpassed it. She sank gasping on a sofa, still 
putting out her hand as though to protect herself. 
But Marcella knelt beside her, the tears running 
down her cheeks. She put her arms arms formed 
for tenderness, for motherliness round the girl's 
slight frame. ' Don't don't repulse me/ she said, 
with trembling lips, and suddenly Letty yielded. 
She found herself sobbing in Lady Maxwell's em- 
brace, while all the healing, all the remorse, all the 
comfort that self-abandonment and pity can pour out 
on such a plight as hers, descended upon her from 
Marcella's clinging touch, her hurried, fragmentary 
words. Assurances that all could be made right - 
entreaties for gentleness and patience revelations of 
her own inmost heart as a wife, far too sacred for the 
ears of Letty Tressady little phrases and snatches 
of autobiography steeped in an exquisite experience : 
the nature Letty had rained her blows upon, kept 
nothing back, gave her all its best. How irrelevant 
[ 104 ] 


much of it was! chequered throughout by those 
oblivions, and optimisms, and foolish hopes by which 
such a nature as Marcella's protects itself from the 
hard facts of the world. By the time she had ranged 
through every note of entreaty and consolation, Mar- 
cella had almost persuaded herself and Letty that 
George Tressady had never said a word to her beyond 
the commonplaces of an ordinary friendship ; she had 
passionately determined that this blurred and spoiled 
marriage could and should be mended, and that it lay 
with her to do it; and in the spirit of her audacious 
youth she had taken upon herself the burden of Letty's 
character and fate, vowing herself to a moral mission, 
to a long patience. The quality of her own nature, 
perhaps, made her bear Letty's violences and frenzies 
more patiently than would have been possible to a 
woman of another type ; generous remorse and regret, 
combined with her ignorance of Letty's history and 
the details of Letty's life, led her even to look upon 
these violences as the effects of love perverted, the 
anguish of a jealous heart. Imagination, keen and 
loving, drew the situation for her in rapid strokes, 
draped Letty in the subtleties and powers of her own 
heart, and made forbearance easy. 

As for Letty, her whole being surrendered itself to 
a mere ebb and flow of sensations. That she had 
been able thus to break down the barriers of Marcella's 
stateliness filled her all through, in her passion as in 
her yielding, with a kind of exultation. A vision of 
a tall figure in a white and silver dress, sitting stiff 
and unapproachable beside her in the Castle Luton 
drawing-room, fled through her mind now and then, 
[ 105 ] 


only to make the wonder of this pleading voice, these 
confidences, this pity, the more wonderful. But there 
was more than this, and better than this. Strange up- 
wellings of feelings long trampled on and suppressed - 
momentary awakenings of conscience, of repentance, 
of regret sharp realisations of an envy that was no 
longer ignoble but moral, softer thoughts of George, 
the suffocating, unwilling recognition of what love 
meant in another woman's life these messengers and 
forerunners of diviner things passed and repassed 
through the spaces of Letty's soul as she lay white 
and passive under Marcella's yearning look. There 
was a marvellous relief besides, much of it a physical 
relief, in this mere silence, this mere ceasing from 
angry railing and offence. 

Marcella was still sitting beside her, holding her 
hands, and talking in the same low voice, when sud- 
denly the loud sound of a bell clanged through the 
house. Letty sprang up, white and startled. 

'What can it be? It's past ten o'clock. It can't be 
a telegram.' 

Then a guilty remembrance struck her. She hurried 
to the door as Kenrick entered. 

'Lady Tressady.'s maid would like to see you, my 
lady. They want Sir George's address. The doctors 
think she will hardly live over to-morrow.' 

And behind Kenrick, Justine, the French maid, 
pushed her way in, weeping and exclaiming. Lady 
Tressady, it seemed, had been in frightful pain all the 
afternoon. She was now easier for the moment, 
though dangerously exhausted. But if the heart at- 
tacks returned during the next twenty-four hours, 
[ 106 ] 


nothing could save her. The probability was that 
they would return, and she was asking piteously for 
her son, who had seen her, Justine believed, the day 
before these seizures began, just before his departure 
for Paris, and had written. 'Et la pauvre ame!' 
cried the Frenchwoman at last, not caring what she 
said to this amazing daughter-in-law, 'elle est la 
toujours, quand les douleurs s'apaisent un peu, 
Scoutant, esperant et personne ne vient personnel 
Voulez-vous bien, madame, me dire ou on peut trouver 
Sir George?' 

'Poste Restante, Trouville,' said Letty, sullenly. 
'It is the only address that I know of.' 

But she stood there irresolute and frowning, while 
the French girl, hardly able to contain herself, stared 
at the disfigured face, demanding by her quick-breath- 
ing silence, by her whole attitude, something else, 
something more than Sir George's address. 

Meanwhile Marcella waited in the background, 
obliged to hear what passed, and struck with amaze- 
ment. It is perhaps truer of the moral world than 
the social that one half of it never conceives how the 
other half lives. George Tressady's mother alone 
dying in her son's absence and Letty Tressady 
knew nothing of her illness till it had become a ques- 
tion of life and death, and had then actually refused 
to go forgotten the summons even ! 

When Letty, feverish and bewildered, turned back 
to the companion whose heart had been poured out 
before her during this past hour of high emotion, she 
saw a new expression in Lady Maxwell's eyes from 
which she shrank. 

[ 107 ] 


'Ought I to go?' she said, fretfully, almost like a 
peevish child, putting her hand to her brow. 

'My carriage is downstairs/ said Marcella, quickly. 
'I can take you there at once. Is there a nurse?' she 
asked, turning to the maid. 

Oh, yes ; there was an excellent nurse, just installed, 
or Justine could not have left her mistress; and the 
doctor close by could be got at a moment's notice. 
But the poor lady wanted her son, or at least some one 
of the family, Justine bit her lip, and threw a nerv- 
ous side-glance at Letty, and it went to the heart 
to see her. The girl found relief in describing her mis- 
tress's state to this grave and friendly lady, and showed 
more feeling and sincerity in speaking of it than might 
have been expected from her affected dress and man- 

Meanwhile Letty seemed to be wandering aimlessly 
about the room. Marcella went up to her. 

'Your hat is here, on this chair. I have a shawl in 
the carriage. Won't you come at once, and leave word 
to your maid to bring after you what you want? Then 
I can go on, if you wish it, and send your telegram 
to Sir George.' 

'But you wanted him to do something?' said Letty, 
looking at her uncertainly. 

'Mothers come first, I think!' said Marcella, with 
a smile of wonder. ' It is best to write it before we go. 
Will you tell me what to say?' 

She went to the writing-table, and had to write the 
telegram with small help from Letty, who in her dazed, 
miserable soul was still fighting some demonic resist- 
ance or other to the step asked of her. Instinctively 
[ 108 ] 


and gradually, however, Marcella took command of 
her. A few quiet words to Justine sent her to make 
arrangements with Grier. Then Letty found a cloak 
that had been sent for being drawn round her shoulders, 
and was coaxed to put on her hat. In another minute 
she was in the Maxwells' brougham, with her hand 
clasped in Marcella's. 

'They will want me to sit up/ she said, dashing an 
irrelevant tear from her eyes, as they drove away. ' I 
am so tired and I hate illness !' 

'Very likely they won't let you see her to-night. 
But you will be there if the illness comes on again. 
You would feel it terribly if if she died all alone, 
with Sir George away/ 

'Died!' Letty repeated, half -angrily. 'But that 
would be so horrible what could I do?' 

Marcella looked at her with a strange smile. 

'Only be kind, only forget everything but her!' 

The softness of her voice had yet a severity beneath 
it that Letty felt, but had no spirit to resent. Rather 
it awakened an uneasy and painful sense that, after 
all, it was not she who had come off conqueror in this 
great encounter. The incidents of the last half-hour 
seemed in some curious way to have reversed their 
positions. Letty, smarting, felt that her relation to 
George's dying mother had revealed her to Lady Max- 
well far more than any wild and half-sincere confes- 
sions could have done. Her vanity felt a deep inner 
wound, yet of a new sort. At any rate, Marcella's self- 
abasement was over, and Letty instinctively realised 
that she would never see it again, while at the same 
time a new and clinging need had arisen in herself. 
[ 109 ] 


The very neighbourhood of the personality beside her 
had begun to thrill and subjugate her. She had been 
conscious enough before enviously, hatefully con- 
scious of all the attributes and possessions that 
made Maxwell's wife a great person in the world of 
London. What was stealing upon her now was glam- 
our and rank and influence of another kind. 

Not unmixed, no doubt, with more mundane 
thoughts! No ordinary preacher, no middle-class 
eloquence perhaps would have sufficed nothing less 
dramatic and distinguished than the scene which had 
actually passed, than a Marcella at her feet. Well! 
there are many modes and grades of conversion. 
Whether by what was worst in her, or what was best ; 
whether the same weaknesses of character that had 
originally inflamed her had now helped to subdue 
her or no, what matter? So much stood that one 
short hour had been enough to draw this vain, selfish 
nature within a moral grasp she was never again to 
shake off. 

Meanwhile, as they drove towards Warwick Square 
Marcella's only thought was how to hand her over 
safe to her husband. A sense of agonised responsibil- 
ity awoke in the elder woman at the thought of Cathe- 
dine. But no more emotion only common sense and 

As they neared Warwick Square, Letty withdrew 
her hand. 

'I don't suppose you will ever want to see me 
again/ she said, huskily, turning her head away. 

'Do you think that very possible between two 
people who have gone through such a time as you and 


I have?' said Marcella, pale, but smiling. 'When 
may I come to see you to-morrow? I shall send to 
inquire, of course, very early/ 

Some thought made Letty's breath come quickly. 
'Will you come in the afternoon about four?' she 
said, hastily. ' I suppose I shall be here/ They were 
just stopping at the door in Warwick Square. 'You 
said you would tell me ' 

' I have a great deal to tell you. ... I will come, 
then, and see if you can be spared. . . . Good-night. 
I trust she will be better ! I will go on and send the 

Letty felt her hand gravely pressed, the footman 
helped her out, and in another minute she was mount- 
ing the stairs leading to Lady Tressady's room, having 
sent a servant on before her to warn the nurse of her 

The nurse came out, finger on lip. She was very 
glad to see Lady Tressady, but the doctor had left 
word that nothing whatever was to be allowed to dis- 
turb or excite his patient. Of course, if the attack 
returned - - But just now there was hope. Only it 
was so difficult to keep her quiet. Instead of trying 
to sleep, she was now asking for Justine, declaring 
that Justine must read French novels aloud to her, 
and bring out two of her evening dresses, that she 
might decide on some alteration in the trimmings. 
' I dare n't fight with her/ said the nurse, evidently 
in much perplexity. ' But if she only raises herself in 
bed she may kill herself/ 

She hurried back to her patient, promising to inform 

t in j 


the daughter-in-law at once if there was a change for 
the worse, and Letty, infinitely relieved, made her 
way to the spare room of the house, where Grier was 
already unpacking for her. 

After a hasty undressing she threw herself into bed, 
longing for sleep. But from a short nightmare dream 
she woke up with a start. Where was she? In her 
mother-in-law's house, she could actually hear the 
shrill affected voice laughing and talking in the room 
next door, and brought there by Marcella Maxwell ! 
The strangeness of these two facts kept her tossing 
restlessly from side to side. And where was George? 
Just arrived at Paris, perhaps. She thought of the 
glare and noise of the Gare du Nord she heard his 
cab rattling over the long stone-paved street outside. 
In the darkness she felt a miserable sinking of heart 
at the thought of his going every minute farther, 
farther away from her. Would he ever forgive her 
that letter to Lord Maxwell, when he knew of it? Did 
she want him to forgive her? 

A mood that was at once soft and desolate stole 
upon her, and made her cry a little. It sprang, per- 
haps, from a sense of the many barriers she had 
heaped up between herself and happiness. The waves 
of feeling, half self-assertive, half repentant, ebbed 
and flowed. One moment she yearned for the hour 
when Marcella was to come to her; the next, she 
hated the notion of it. So between dream and misery, 
amid a maze of thought without a clue, Letty's night 
passed away. By the time the morning dawned, the 
sharp conviction had shaped itself within her that she 
had grown older, that life had passed into another 


stage, and could never again be as it had been the day 
before. Two emotions, at least, or excitements, had 
emerged from all the rest and filled her mind the 
memory of the scene with Marcella, and the thought 
of George's return. 


MY dear, you don't mean to say you have had her 
here for ten days?' 

The speaker was Betty Leven, who had just arrived 
at Maxwell Court, and was sitting with her hostess 
under the cedars in front of the magnificent Caroline 
mansion, which it was the never-ending task of Mar- 
cella's life to bring somehow into a democratic scheme 
of things. 

A still September afternoon, lightly charged with 
autumn mists, lay gently on the hollows of the park. 
Betty was in her liveliest mood and her gayest dress. 
Her hat, a marvel in poppies, was perched high upon 
no less ingenious waves and frettings of hair. Her 
straw-coloured gown, which was only simple for the 
untrained eye, gave added youth even to her childish 
figure ; and her very feet, clothed in the smallest and 
most preposterous of shoes, had something merry and 
provocative about them, as they lay crossed upon the 
wooden footstool Marcella had pushed towards her. 

The remark just quoted followed upon one made by 
her hostess, to the effect that Lady Tressady would be 
down to tea shortly. 

'Now, Betty/ said Marcella, seriously, though she 
laughed, ' I meant to have a few words with you on 
this subject first thing let's have them. Do you 
want to be very kind to me, or do you ever want me 
to be very nice to you?' 


Betty considered. 

'You can't do half as much for me now as you once 
could, now that Frank 's going to leave Parliament/ 
she remarked, with as much worldly wisdom as her 
face allowed. ' Nevertheless, the quality of my nature 
is such that, sometimes, I might even be nice to you 
for nothing. But information before benevolence 
why have you got her here?' 

' Because she was fagged and unhappy in London, 
and her husband had gone to take his mother abroad, 
after first doing Maxwell a great kindness/ said Mar- 
cella, not, however, without embarrassment, as 
Betty saw, 'and I want you to be kind to her/ 

'Reasons one and two no reason at all/ said Betty, 
meditating; 'and the third wants examining. You 
mean that George Tressady went after Ancoats?' 

Marcella raised her shoulders, and was silent. 

' If you are going to be stuffy and mysterious/ said 
Betty, with vivacity, 'you know what sort of a hedge- 
hog I can be. How can you expect me to be nice to 
Letty Tressady unless you make it worth my while?' 

'Betty, you infant! Well, then, he did go after 
Ancoats got him safely away from Trouville, 
brought him to Paris to join Mrs. Allison, and, in 
general, has laid us all under very great obligations. 
Meanwhile, she was very much tired out with nursing 
her mother-in-law ' 

'Oh, and such a mother-in-law such a jewel!' 
ejaculated Betty. 

'And I brought her down here to rest, till he should 
come back from Wildheim and take her home. He will 
probably be here to-night.' 

[ US 1. 


The speaker reddened unconsciously during her 
story, a fact not lost on Betty. 

'Well, I knew most of that before/ said Betty, 
quietly. 'And what sort of a time have you been 
having this ten days?' 

' I have been very glad to have her here/ came the 
quick reply. 'I ought to have known her long ago/ 

Betty looked at the speaker with a half-incredulous 

'You have been "collecting her," I suppose, as 
Hallin collects grasses. Of course, what I pine to 
know is what sort of a time she's had. You're not 
the easiest person in the world to get on with, my 

'I know that/ said Marcella, sighing; 'but I don't 
think she has been unhappy.' 

Betty's green eyes opened suddenly to the light. 

'Are you ever going to tell me the truth? Have 
you got her under your thumb? Does she adore you?' 

'Betty, don't be an idiot!' 

'I expect she does/ said Betty, thoughtfully, a 
myriad thoughts and conjectures passing through her 
quick brain as she studied her friend's face and atti- 
tude. ' I see exactly what fate is going to happen to 
you in middle life. Women could n't get on with you 
when you were a girl you did n't like them, nor they 
you; and now everywhere I hear the young women 
beginning to talk about you, especially the young 
married women; and in a few years you will have 
them all about you like a cluster of doves, cooing and 
confessing, and making your life a burden to you.' 

'Well, suppose you begin?' said Marcella, with 
[ 116 ] 


meaning. 'I'm quite ready. How are Frank's spirits 
since the great decision?' 

'Frank's spirits?' said Betty. She leisurely took 
off her glove. 'Frank's spirits, my dear, if you wish 
to know, are simply an affront to his wife. My ruined 
ambitions appear to affect him as Parrish's food does 
the baby. I prophesy he will have gained a stone by 

For the great step had been taken. Betty had given 
way, and Frank was to escape from politics. For 
three years Betty had held him to his task had 
written his speeches, formed his opinions, and done 
her very best to train him for a statesman. But the 
young man had in truth no opinions, save indeed what- 
ever- might be involved in the constant opinion that 
Heaven had intended him for a country gentleman 
and a sportsman, and for nothing else. And at last a 
mixture of revolt and melancholy had served his pur- 
pose. Betty was subdued ; the Chiltern Hundreds were 
in sight. The young wife, with many sighs, had laid 
down all dreams of a husband on the front bench. 
But in compensation she had regained her lover, 
and the honeymoon shone once more. 

'Frank came to see me yesterday,' said Marcella, 

Betty sprang forward. 

'What did he say? Did n't he tell you I was an 
angel? Now there's a bargain! Repeat to me every 
single word he said, and I will devote myself, body 
and bones, to Letty Tressady.' 

'Hush!' said Marcella, laying two fingers on the 
pretty mouth. 'Here she comes.' 
t 11? ] 


Letty Tressady, in fact, had just emerged from a 
side-door of the house, and was slowly approaching 
the two friends on the terrace. Lady Leven's discern- 
ing eye ran over the advancing figure. Marcella heard 
her make some exclamation under her breath. Then 
she rose with little, hurrying steps, and went to greet 
the newcomer with a charming ease and kindness. 

Letty responded rather nervously. Marcella looked 
up with a smile, and pointed to a low chair, which 
Letty took with a certain stiffness. It was evident to 
Marcella that she was afraid of Lady Leven, who had, 
indeed, shown a marked indifference to her society at 
Castle Luton. 

But Betty was disarmed. The 'minx' had lost her 
colour, and, for the moment, her prettiness. She 
looked depressed, and talked little. As to her relation 
to Marcella Betty's inquisitive brain indulged itself 
in a score of conjectures. ' How like her ! ' she thought 
to herself, ' to forget the wife's existence to begin with, 
and then to make love to her by way of warding off the 

Meanwhile, aloud, Lady Leven professed herself ex- 
ceedingly dissatisfied with the entertainment provided 
for her. Where were the gentlemen? What was the 
good of one putting on one's best frock to come down 
to a Maxwell Court Saturday to find only a ' hen tea- 
party' at the end? Marcella protested that there were 
only too many men somewhere on the premises al- 
ready, and more with their wives were arriving 
by the next train. But Maxwell had taken off such 
as had already appeared for a long cross-country walk. 

Betty demanded the names, and Marcella gave them 
[ 118 ] 


obediently. Betty perceived at once that the party 
was the party of a political chief obliged to do his duty. 
She allowed herself a good many shrugs of her small 
shoulders. ' Oh, Mrs. Lexham, very charming, of 
course, but what's the good of being friends with 
a person who has five hundred people in London that 
call her Nelly? Lady Wendover ? I ought to have had 
notice. A good mother? I should think she is ! That's 
the whole point against her. She always gives you the 
idea of having reared fifteen out of a possible twelve. 
To see her beaming on her offspring makes me posi- 
tively ashamed of being in the same business myself. 
Don't you agree, Lady Tressady?' 

But Letty, whose chief joy a month before would 
have been to dart in on such a list with little pecking 
proofs of acquaintance, was leaning back listlessly in 
her chair, and could only summon a forced smile for 

'And Sir George, too, is coming to-night, isn't 
he?' said Lady Leven. 

'Yes, I expect my husband to-night,' said Letty, 
coldly, without looking at her questioner. Betty 
glanced quickly at the expression of the eyes which 
were bent upon the farther reaches of the park; then, 
to Letty's astonishment, she bent forward impulsively 
and laid her little hand on Lady Tressady's arm. 

' Do you mind telling me,' she said, in a loud whis- 
per, with a glance over her shoulder, 'your candid 
opinion of her as a country lady?' 

Letty, taken aback, turned and laughed uneasily; 
but Betty went rattling on. ' Have you found out that 
she treats her servants like hospital nurses ; that they 
[ 119 ] 


go off and on duty at stated hours ; that she has work- 
shops and art schools for them in the back premises ; 
and that the first footman has just produced a cantata 
which has been sent in to the committee of the Wor- 
cester Festival (be quiet, Marcella ; if it is n't that, 
it's something near it) ; that she teaches the stable- 
boys and the laundry-maids old English dances, and 
the pas de quatre once a fortnight, and acts showman 
to her own pictures for the benefit of the neighbour- 
hood once a week? I came once to see how she did it, 
but I found her and the Gairsley ironmonger measur- 
ing the ears of the Holbeins it seems you can't 
know anything about pictures now unless you have 
measured all the ears and the little fingers, which I 
hope you know ; I did n't ! so I fled, as she had n't a 
word to throw to me, even as one of the public. Then 
perhaps you don't know that she has invented a whole, 
new, and original system of game-preserving she 
and Frank fight over it by the hour that she has 
upset all the wage arrangements of the county that, 
perhaps, you do know, for it got into the papers and 
a hundred other trifles. Has she revealed these 

Letty looked in perplexity from Betty's face, full of 
sweetness and mirth, to Marcella's. 

' She has n't talked about them,' she said, hesitating. 
' Of course, I have n't understood a good many things 
that are done here - 

'Don't try,' said Marcella, first laughing and then 

Nothing appeased, Lady Leven chattered away, 
while Letty watched her hostess in silence. She had 
[ 120 ] 


come down to the Court gloating somewhat, in spite 
of her very real unhappiness, over the prospect of the 
riches and magnificence she was to find there. And 
to discover that wealth might be merely the source 
of one long moral wrestle to the people who possessed 
it, burdening them with all sorts of problems and 
remorses that others escaped, had been a strange and, 
on the whole, jarring experience to her. Of course 
there must be rich and poor ; of course there must be 
servants and masters. Marcella's rebellion against the 
barriers of life had been a sort of fatigue and offence 
to Letty ever since she had been made to feel it. And 
daily contact with the simple, and even Spartan, ways 
of living that prevailed for the owners of it, at least 

- in the vast house, with the overflowing energy and 
humanity that often made its mistress a restless com- 
panion, and led her into a fair percentage of mistakes 

- had roused a score of half-scornful protests in the 
small, shrewd mind of her guest. Nevertheless, when 
Marcella was kind, when she put Letty on the sofa, 
insisting that she was tired, and anxiously accusing 
herself of some lack of consideration or other; when 
she took her to her room at night, seeing to every 
comfort, and taking thought for luxuries that in her 
heart she despised ; or when, very rarely, and turning 
rather pale, she said a few words sweet, hopeful, 
encouraging about George's return, then Letty was 
conscious of a strange leap of something till then un- 
known, something that made her want to sob, that 
seemed to open to her a new room in the House of Life. 
Marcella had not kissed her since the day of their great 
scene; they had been 'Lady Maxwell' and 'Lady 


Tressady' to each other all the time, and Letty ha 
but realised her own insolences and audacities the 
more, as gradually the spiritual dignity of the woman 
she had raved at came home to her. But sometimes 
when Marcella stood beside her, unconscious, talking 
pleasantly of London folk or Ancoats, or trying to 
inform herself as to Letty's life at Ferth, a half- 
desolate intuition would flash across the younger wo- 
man of what it might be to be admitted to the intimate 
friendship of such a nature, to feel those long, slender 
arms pressed about her once more, not in pity or 
remonstrance, as of one trying to exorcise an evil 
spirit, but in mere love, as of one asking as well as 
giving. The tender and adoring friendship of women 
for women, which has become so marked a feature of 
our self-realising generation, had passed Letty by. 
She had never known it. Now, in these unforeseen cir- 
cumstances, she seemed to be trembling within reach 
of its emotion ; divining it, desiring it, yet forced on- 
ward to the question, ' What is there in me that may 
claim it?' 

Marcella, indeed, after their first stormy interview, 
had once more returned to the subject of it. She had 
told the story of her friendship with George Tressady, 
very gently and plainly, in a further conversation, held 
between them at the elder Lady Tressady's house dur- 
ing that odd lady's very odd convalescence; till, in- 
deed, she reached the last scene. She could not bring 
herself to deliver the truth of that. Nor was it neces- 
sary. Letty's jealousy had guessed it near enough long 
ago. But when all else was told, Letty had been con- 
scious at first of a half -sore resentment that there was 


so little to tell. In her secret soul she knew very well 
what had been the effect on George. Her husband's 
mind had been gradually absorbed by another ideal in 
which she had no part ; nor could she deny that he had 
suffered miserably. The memory of his face as he 
asked her to 'forgive him' when she fled past him on 
that last wretched night was enough. But suffered 
for what? A few talks about politics, a few visits to 
poor people, an office of kindness after a street ac- 
cident that any stranger must have rendered, a few 
meetings in the House and elsewhere ! 

Letty's vanity was stabbed anew by the fact that 
Lady Maxwell's offence was so small. It gave her a 
kind of measure of her own hold upon her husband. 

Once, indeed, Marcella's voice and colour had 
wavered when she made herself describe how, on the 
Mile-End evening, she had been conscious of pressing 
the personal influence to gain the political end. But 
good Heavens! Letty hardly understood what the 
speaker's evident compunction was about. Why, it 
was all for Maxwell! What had she thought of all 
through but Maxwell? Letty's humiliation grew as 
she understood, and as in the quiet of Maxwell Court 
she saw the husband and wife together. 

Her anger and resentment might very well only 
have transferred themselves the more hotly to George. 
But this new moral influence upon her had a kind of 
paralysing effect. The incidents of the weeks before 
the crisis excited in her now a sick, shamed feeling 
whenever she thought of them. For contact with 
people on a wholly different plane of conduct, if such 
persons as Letty can once be brought to submit to it, 
[ 123 ] 


will often produce effects, especially on women, like 
those one sees produced every day by the clash of two 
standards of manners. It means simply the recognition 
that one is unfit to be of certain company, and per- 
haps there are few moral ferments more penetrating. 
Probably Letty would have gone to her grave knowing 
nothing of it, but for the accident which had opened 
to her the inmost heart of a woman with whom, once 
known, not even her vanity dared measure itself. 

George and she had already met since the day when 
he had gone off to Paris in search of Ancoats. The 
telegram sent to him by Marcella on the night of his 
mother's violent illness had, indeed, been recalled next 
day. Lady Tressady, following the idiosyncrasies of 
her disease, sprang from death to life and life of the 
sprightliest kind in the course of a few hours. The 
battered, grey-haired woman so old, do what she 
would, under the betraying hand of physical decay! 
no sooner heard that George had been sent for than 
she at once and peremptorily telegraphed to him her- 
self to stay away. 'I'm not dead yet/ she wrote to 
him afterwards, 'in spite of all the fuss they've made 
with me. I was simply ashamed to own such a cadav- 
erous-looking wretch as you were when you came here 
last, and if you take my advice you'll stay at Trouville 
with Lord Ancoats and amuse yourself. As to that 
young man, of course it's no good, and his mother's 
a great fool to suppose that you or anybody else can 
prevent his enjoying himself. But these High Church 
women are so extraordinary.' 

Letty, indeed, remembering her mother-in-law's old 
ways, and finding them little changed as far as she 
[ 124 ] 


herself was concerned, was puzzled and astonished by 
the new relations between mother and son. On the 
smallest excuse or none, Lady Tressady, a year before, 
would have been ready to fetch him back from farthest 
Ind without the least scruple. Now, however, she 
thought of him, or for him, incessantly. And one day 
Letty actually found her crying over an official intima- 
tion from the lawyer concerned that another instal- 
ment of the Shapetsky debt would be due within a 
month. But she angrily dried her tears at sight of 
Letty, and Letty said nothing. 

George, however, came back within about ten days 
of his departure, having apparently done what he was 
commissioned to do, though Letty took so little inter- 
est in the Ancoats affair that she barely read those 
portions of his letters in which he described the course 
of it. His letters, indeed, with the exception of a few 
ambiguous words here and there, dealt entirely with 
Trouville, Ancoats, or the ups and downs of public 
opinion on the subject of his action and speech in the 
House. Letty could only gather from a stray phrase 
or two that he enjoyed nothing; but evidently he 
could not yet bring himself to speak of what had 

When he did come back, the husband and wife saw 
very little of each other. It was more convenient that 
he should stay in Upper Brook Street while she re- 
mained at her mother-in-law's; and altogether he 
was hardly three days in London. He rushed up to 
Market Malford to deliver his promised speech to his 
constituents, and immediately afterwards, on the 
urgent advice of the doctors, he went off to Wildheim 
[ 125 ] 


with his mother and the elderly cousin whose aid he 
had already invoked. Before he went, he formally 
thanked his wife who hardly spoke to him unless 
she was obliged for her attention to his mother, and 
then lingered a little, looking no less 'cadaverous,' cer- 
tainly, than when he had gone away, and apparently 
desiring to say more. 

' I suppose I shall be away about a fortnight/ he 
said at last, 'if one is to settle her comfortably. You 
haven't told me yet what you would like to do. 
Could n't you get Miss Tulloch to go down with you 
to Ferth, or would you go to your people for a fort- 

He was longing to ask her what had come of that 
promised visit of Lady Maxwell's. But neither by 
letter nor by word of mouth had Letty as yet said a 
word of it. And he did not know how to open the 
subject. During the time that he was with his wife 
and mother, nothing was seen of Marcella in War- 
wick Square, and an interview that he was to have had 
with Maxwell, by way of supplement to his numerous 
letters, had to be postponed because of overcrowded 
days on both sides. So that he was still in the dark. 

Letty at first made no answer to his rather lame 
proposals for her benefit. But just as he was turning 
away with a look of added worry, she said : 

' I don't want to go home, thank you, and I still less 
want to go to Ferth.' 

' But you can't stay in London. There is n't a soul 
in town ; and it would be too dull for you/ 

He gazed at her in perplexity, praying, however, 
that he might not provoke a scene, for the carriage 


that was to take him and his mother to the station was 
almost at the door. 

Letty rose slowly, and folded up some embroidery 
she had been playing with. Then she took a note from 
her work-basket, and laid it on the table. 

'You may read that if you like. That's where I'm 

And she quickly went out of the room. 

George read the note. His face flushed, and he 
hurriedly busied himself with some of his prepara- 
tions for departure. When his wife came into the 
room again he went up to her. 

'You could have done nothing so likely to save 
us both/ he said, huskily, and then could think of 
nothing more to say. He drew her to him as though 
to kiss her, but a blind movement of the old rage with 
him or circumstance leapt in her, and she pulled her- 
self away. The thought of that particular moment 
had done more perhaps than anything else to thin and 
whiten her since she had been at Maxwell Court. 

And now he would be here to-night. She knew 
both from her host himself and from George's letters 
that Lord Maxwell had specially written to him beg- 
ging him to come to the Court on his return, in order 
to join his wife and also to give that oral report of 
his mission for which there had been no time on his 
first reappearance. Maxwell had spoken to her of 
his wish to see her husband, without a tone or a word 
that could suggest anything but the natural friendli- 
ness and good-will of the man who has accepted a 
signal service from his junior. But Letty avoided 
Maxwell when she could; nor would he willingly 
[ 127 ] 


have been left alone with this thin, sharp-faced girl 
whose letter to him had been like the drawing of an 
ugly veil from nameless and incredible things. He 
was sorry for her; but in his strong, deep nature he 
felt a repulsion for her he could not explain ; and to 
watch Marcella with her amazed him. 

Immediately after tea, Lady Leven's complaints of 
her entertainment became absurd. Guests poured in 
from the afternoon train, and a variety of men, her 
husband foremost among them, were soon at her dis- 
posal, asking nothing better than to amuse her. 

Letty Tressady meanwhile looked on for a time at 
the brilliant crowd about her on the terrace, with a 
dull sense of being forgotten and of no account. She 
said to herself sullenly that of course no one would 
want to talk to her; it was not her circle, and she 
had even few acquaintances among them. 

Then, to her astonishment, she began to find herself 
the object of an evident curiosity and interest to many 
people among the throng. She divined that her name 
was being handed from one to the other, and she soon 
perceived that Marcella had been asked to introduce 
to her this person and that, several of them men and 
women whose kindness, a few weeks before, would 
have flattered her social ambitions to the highest point. 
Colour and nerve returned, and she found herself sit- 
ting up, forgetting her headache, and talking fast. 

' I am delighted to have this opportunity of telling 
you, Lady Tressady, how much I admired your hus- 
band's great speech/ said the deep and unctuous 
voice of the grey-haired Solicitor-General as he sank 
[ 128 ] 


into a chair beside her. ' It was not only that it gave 
us our Bill, it gave the House of Commons a new 
speaker. Manner, voice, matter all of it excellent ! 
I hope there'll be no nonsense about his giving up his 
seat. Don't you let him ! He will find his feet and his 
right place before long, and you'll be uncommonly 
proud of him before you've done.' 

'Lady Tressady, I'm afraid you've forgotten me/ 
said a plaintive voice ; and, on turning, Letty saw the 
red-haired Lady Madeleine asking with smiles to be 
remembered. ' Do you know, I was lucky enough to 
get into the House on the great day? What a scene it 
was! You were there, of course?' 

When Letty unwillingly said ' No, ' there was a little 
chorus of astonishment. 

'Well, take my advice, my dear lady/ said the 
Solicitor-General, speaking with lazy patronage some- 
where from the depths of comfort, he was accus- 
tomed to use these paternal modes of speech to young 
women, ' don't you miss your husband's speeches. 
We can't do without our domestic critics. But for the 
bad quarters of an hour that lady over there has given 
me, I should be nowhere/ 

And he nodded complacently towards the wife as 
stout as himself, who was sitting a few yards away. 
She, hearing her name, nodded back, with smiles aside 
to the bystanders. Most of the spectators, however, 
were already acquainted with a conjugal pose which 
was generally believed to be not according to facts, 
and no one took the cue. 

Then presently Mr. Bennett the workmen's mem- 
ber from the North was at Letty's elbow saying 
[ 129 ] 


the most cordial things of the absent George. Bayle, 
too, the most immaculate and exclusive of private sec- 
retaries, who was at the Court on a wedding- visit with 
a new wife, chose to remember Lady Tressady's ex- 
istence for the first time for many months, and to be- 
stow some of his carefully adapted conversation upon 
her. While, last of all, Edward Watton came up to her 
with a cousinly kindness she had scarcely yet received 
from him, and, drawing a chair beside her, overflowed 
with talk about George, and the Bill, and the state of 
things at Market Malford. In fact, it was soon clear 
even to Letty's bewildered sense that till her husband 
should arrive she was perhaps, for the moment, the 
person of most interest to this brilliant and represent- 
ative gathering of a victorious party. 

Meanwhile she was made constantly aware that her 
'hostess remembered her. Once, as Marcella passed her, 
after introducing some one to her, Letty felt a hand 
gently laid on her shoulder and then withdrawn. 
Strange waves of emotion ran through the girl's 
senses. When would George be here? About seven, 
she thought, when they would all have gone up to 
dress. He would have arrived from Wildheim in the 
morning, and was to spend the day doing business in 


LETTY was lying on a sofa in her bedroom. Her 
maid was to come to her shortly, and she was impa- 
tiently listening to every sound that approached or 
passed her door. The great clock in the distant hall 
struck seven, and it seemed to her intolerably long 
before she heard movements in the passage, and then 
Maxwell's voice outside. 

' Here is your room, Sir George. I hope you don't 
mind a few ghosts ! It is one of the oldest bits of the 

Letty sprang up. She heard the shutting of the pass- 
age-door, then immediately afterwards the door from 
the dressing-room opened, and George came through. 

'Well!' she said, staring at him, her face flushing; 
'surely you are very late? ' 

He came up to her, and put his arms round her, 
while she stood passive. 'Not so very/ he said, and 
she could hear that his voice was unsteady. ' How are 
you? Give me a kiss, little woman be a little glad 
to see me!' 

He looked down upon her wistfully. On the journey 
he had been conscious of great weariness of mind and 
body, a longing to escape from struggle, to give and 
receive the balm of kind looks and soft words. He 
had come back full of repentance towards her, if she 
had only known, full too of a natural young longing 
for peace and good times. 

She let him kiss her, but as he stooped to her it sud- 


denly struck her that she had never seen him look so 
white and worn. Still ; after all this holiday-making ! 
Why? For love of a woman who never gave him a 
thought, except of pity. Bitterness possessed her. 
She turned away indifferently. 

'Well, you'll only just have time to dress. Is some 
one unpacking for you?' 

He looked at her. 

'Is that all you have to say?' 

She threw back her head and was silent. 

' I was very glad to come back to you/ he said, with 
a sigh, ' though I I wish it were anywhere else than 
here. But, all things considered, I did not see how to 
refuse. And you have been here the whole fortnight?' 


'Have you' he hesitated 'have you seen a 
great deal of Lady Maxwell?' 

'Well, I suppose I have in her own house.' Then 
she broke out, her heart leaping visibly under her light 
dressing-gown. 'I don't blame her any more, if you 
want to know that ; she does n't think of any one in 
the world but him.' 

. The gesture of her hand seemed to pursue the voice 
that had been just speaking in the corridor. 

He smiled. 

'Well, at least I'm glad you've come to see that!' 
he said, quietly. 'And is that all?' 

He had walked away from her, but at his renewed 
question he turned back quickly, his hands in his 
pockets. Something in the look of him gave her a mo- 
ment of pleasure, a throb of possession. But she 
showed nothing of it. 

[ 132 ] 


'No, it's not air her pale blue eyes pierced him. 
' Why did you go and see her that morning, and why 
have you never told me since?' 

He started, and shrugged his shoulders. 

'If you have been seeing much of her/ he replied, 
after a pause, ' you probably know as much as I could 
tell you/ 

' No/ she said steadily ; ' she has told me much about 
everything but that/ 

He walked restlessly about for a few seconds, then 
returned, holding out his hands. 

'Well, my dear, I said some mad and miserable 
things. They are as dead now as if they had never 
been spoken. And they were not love-making they 
were crying for the moon. Take me, and forget them. 
I am an unsatisfactory sort of fellow, but I will do the 
best I can/ 

'Wait a bit/ she said, retreating, and speaking with 
a hard incisiveness. 'There are plenty of things you 
don't know. Perhaps you don't know, for instance, 
that I wrote to Lord Maxwell ? I sat up writing it that 
night he got it the same morning you saw her/ 

'You wrote to Maxwell!' he said, in amazement 
then, under his breath 'to complain of her. My 

He walked away again, trying to control himself. 

'You didn't suppose/ she said, huskily, 'I was 
going to sit down calmly under your neglect of me? 
I might have been silly in not not seeing what kind 
of a woman she was; that's different besides, of 
course, she ought to have thought more about me. 
But that 'snot all!' 

[ 133 ] 


Her hand shook as she stood leaning on the sofa. 
George turned, and looked at her attentively. 

'The day you left I went to Hampton Court with 
the Lucys. Cathedine was there. Of course I flirted 
with him all the time, and as we were going through 
a wood near the river he said abominable things to me, 
and kissed me/ 

Her brows were drawn defiantly. Her eyes seemed 
to be riveted to his. He was silent a moment, the col- 
our dyeing his pale face deep. Then she heard his 
long breath. 

'Well, we seem to be about quits/ he said, in a bit- 
ter voice. 'Have you seen him since?' 

'No. That's Grier knocking you'd better go and 

He paused irresolutely. But Letty said, ' Come in,' 
and he retreated into his dressing-room. 

Husband and wife hurried down together, without 
another word to each other. When George at last 
found himself at table between Lady Leven and Mr. 
Bayle's new and lively wife, he had never been so 
grateful before to the ease of women's tongues. In 
his mental and physical fatigue, he could scarcely 
bear even to let himself feel the strangeness of his 
presence in this room at her table, in Maxwell's 
splendid house. Not to feel ! somehow to recover his 
old balance and coolness that was the cry of the 
inner man. 

But the situation conquered him. Why was he 

here? It was barely a month since in her London 

drawing-room he had found words for an emotion, a 

confession it now burnt him to remember. And here 

[ 134 ] 


he was, breaking bread with her and Maxwell, a few 
weeks afterwards, as though nothing lay between 
them but a political incident. Oh! the smallness, 
the triviality of our modern life ! 

Was it only four weeks, or nearly? What he had 
suffered in that time! An instant's shudder ran 
through him, during an interval, while Betty's un- 
willing occupation with her left-hand neighbour left 
memory its chance. All the flitting scenes of the 
past month, Ancoats's half-vicious absurdities, the 
humours of the Trouville beach, the waves of its grey 
sea, his mother's whims and plaints, the crowd and 
heat of the little German watering-place where he had 
left her was it he, George Tressady, that had been 
really wrestling with these things and persons, walk- 
ing among them, or beside them? It seemed hardly 
credible. What was real, what remained, was merely 
the thought of some hours of solitude, beside the Nor- 
man sea, or among the great beech-woods that swept 
down the hills about Bad Wildheim. Those hours 
they only had stung, had penetrated, had found the 
shrinking core of the soul. 

What in truth was it that had happened to him? 
After weeks of a growing madness he had finally lost 
his self-command, had spoken passionately, as only 
love speaks, to a married woman, who had no thought 
for any man in the world but her husband, a woman 
who had immediately so he had always read the 
riddle of Maxwell's behaviour reported every inci- 
dent of his conversation with her to the husband, and 
had then tried her best, with an exquisite kindness 
and compunction, to undo the mischief her own charm 
[ 135 ] 


had caused. For that effort, in the first instance, 
George, under the shock of his act and her pain, had 
been, at intervals, speechlessly grateful to her; all his 
energies had gone into pitiful, eager response. Now, 
her attempt, and Maxwell's share in it, seemed to have 
laid him under a weight he could no longer bear. His 
acceptance of Maxwell's invitation had finally ex- 
hausted his power of playing the superhuman part 
to which she had invited him. He wished with all 
his heart he had not accepted it! From the moment 
of her greeting with its mixture of shrinking and 
sweetness he had realised the folly, the humiliation 
even, of his presence in her house. He could not rise 
it was monstrous, ludicrous almost, that she should 
wish it to what she seemed to ask of him. 

What had he been in love with? He looked at her 
once or twice in bewilderment. Had not she herself, 
her dazzling, unconscious purity, debarred him always 
from the ordinary hopes and desires of the sensual 
man? His very thought had moved in awe of her, 
had knelt before her. Throughout there had been 
this half -bitter glorying in the strangeness of his own 
case. The common judgement in its common vileness 
mattered nothing to him. He had been in love with 
love, with grace, with tenderness, with delight. He 
had seen, too late, a vision of the best; had realised 
what things of enchantment life contains for the few, 
for the chosen what woman at her richest can be to 
man. And there had been a cry of personal longing 
- personal anguish. 

Well ! it was all done with. As for friendship, it 
was impossible, grotesque. Let him go home, appease 
[ 136 ] 


Letty, and mend his life. He constantly realised now, 
with the same surprise, as on the night before his con- 
fession, the emergence within himself, independent as 
it were of his ordinary will, and parallel with the 
voice of passion or grief, of some new moral impera- 
tive. Half-scornfully he discerned in his own nature 
the sort of paste that a man inherits from generations 
of decent dull forefathers who have kept the law as 
they understood it. He was conscious of the same 
'ought' vibrating through the moral sense as had gov- 
erned their narrower lives and minds. It is the pre- 
sence or the absence indeed of this dumb compelling 
power that in moments of crisis differentiates one 
man from another. He felt it; wondered perhaps 
that he should feel it; but knew, nevertheless, that he 
should obey it. Yes, let him go home, make his wife 
forgive him, rear his children he trusted to God 
there would be children ! and tame his soul. How 
strange to feel this tempest sweeping through him, 
this iron stiffening of the whole being, amid this 
scene, in this room, within a few feet of that magic, 
that voice 

'Thank goodness I have got rid of my man at last V 
said Betty's laughing whisper in his ear. ' Three suc- 
cessive packs of hounds have I followed from their 
cradles to their graves. Make it up to me, Sir George, 
at once ! Tell me everything I want to know !' 

George turned to her smiling. 

'About Ancoats?' 

' Of course. Now don't be discreet ! I know too 
much already. How did he receive you?' 
[ 137 ] 


George laughed not noticing that instead of 
laughing with him, little Betty was staring at him open- 
eyed over her fan. 

' To begin with, he invited me to fight coffee and 
pistols before eight, on the following morning, in the 
garden of his chalet, which would not have been at all 
a bad place, for he is magnificently installed. I came 
from his enemies, he said. They had prevented the 
woman he loved from joining him, and covered him 
with ridicule. As their representative I ought to be 
prepared to face the consequences like a man. All 
this time he was storming up and down, in a marvel- 
lous blue embroidered smoking-suit - 
' Of course, to go with the hair/ put in Betty. 
'I said I thought he'd better give me some dinner 
before we talked it out. Then he looked embarrassed 
and said there were friends coming. I replied, " Tant 
mieux." He inquired fiercely whether it was the part 
of a gentleman to thrust himself where he wasn't 
wanted. I kept my temper, and said I was too fam- 
ished to consider. Then he haughtily left the room, 
and presently a servant came and asked for my lug- 
gage, which I had left at the station, and showed me 
a bedroom. Ancoats, however, appeared again to in- 
vite me to withdraw, and to suggest the names of two 
seconds who would, he assured me, be delighted to act 
for me. I pointed out to him that I was unpacked, 
and that to turn me out dinnerless would be simply 
barbarous. Then, after fidgeting about a little, he 
burst out laughing in an odd way, and said, "Very 
well only, mind, I did n't ask you." Sure enough, 
of course I found a party/ 

[ 138 ] 


George paused. 

'You need n't tell me much about the party/ said 
Betty, nervously, 'unless it's necessary/ 

'Well, it wasn't a very reputable affair, and two 
young women were present/ 

'No need to talk about the young women/ said 
Betty, hastily. 

George bowed submission. 

' I only mentioned them because they are rather 
necessary to the story. Anyway, by the time the 
company was settled, Ancoats suddenly threw off his 
embarrassment, and, with some defiant looks at me, 
behaved himself, I imagine, much as he would have 
done without me. When all the guests were gone, I 
asked him whether he was going to keep up the farce 
of a grande passion any more. He got in a rage and 
vowed that if "she" had come, of course all those 
creatures, male and female, would be packed off. I 
didn't suppose that he would allow the woman he 
loved to come within a mile of them? I shrugged 
my shoulders and declined to suppose anything about 
his love-affairs, which seemed to me too complicated. 
Then, of course, I had to come to plain speaking, and 
bring in his mother.' 

'That she should have produced such a being!' 
cried Betty ; ' that he should have any right in her at 

'That she should keep such a heart for him!' said 
George, raising his eyebrows. 'He turned rather 
white, I was relieved to see, when I told him from 
her that she would leave his house if the London 
affair went on. Well, we walked up and down in his 
[ 139 ] 


garden, smoking, the greater part of the night, till I 
could have dropped with fatigue. Every now and 
then Ancoats would make a dash for the brandy- 
and-soda on the verandah ; and in between I had to 
listen to tirades against marriage, English prudery, 
and English women, quotations from Gautier and 
Renan, and Heaven knows what. At last, when we 
were both worn out, he suddenly stood still and deliv- 
ered his ultimatum. "Look here if you think I' ve no 
grievances, you're much mistaken. Go back and tell 
my mother that if she'll marry Fontenoy straight 
away, I'll give up Marguerite!" I said I would de- 
liver no such impertinence. "Very well," he said; 
" then I will. Tell her I shall be in Paris next week, 
.and ask her to meet me there. When are you 

'Well,' I said, rather taken aback, 'there is such an 
Institution as the post. Now I ' ve come so far, suppose 
you show me Trouville for a few days?' He mut- 
tered something or other, and we went to bed. After- 
wards, he behaved to me quite charmingly, would not 
let me go, and I ended by leaving him at the door of 
an hotel in Paris where he was to meet his mother. 
But on the subject of Fontenoy it is an idee fixe. He 
chafes under the whole position, and will yield no- 
thing to a man who, as he conceives, has no locus standi. 
But if his pride were no longer annoyed by its being 
said that his mother had sacrificed her own happiness 
to him, and if the situation were defined, I think he 
might be more amenable. I think they might marry 

'That's how the man puts it!' said Betty, tighten- 
[ 140 ] 


ing her lip. ' Of course any marriage is desirable for 
any woman!' 

'I was thinking of Mrs. Allison/ said George, de- 
fensively. ' One can't think of a Lady Ancoats till 
she exists. 7 

' Merci! Never mind. Don't apologise for the 
masculine view. It has to be taken with the rest of 
you. Do you understand that matrimony is in the 
air here to-night? Have you been talking to Lady 
Madeleine? 7 

' No, not yet. But how handsome she's grown ! I see 
Naseby 's not far off.' 

George turned smiling to his companion. But, as he 
did so, again something cold and lifeless in his own 
face and in the expression underlying the smile pricked 
little Betty painfully. Marcella had made her no con- 
fidences, but there had been much gossip, and Letty 
Tressady's mere presence at the Court set the inti- 
mate friend guessing very near the truth. 

She did her best to chatter on, so as to keep him 
at least superficially amused. But both became more 
and more conscious of two figures, and two figures 
only, at the crowded table Letty Tressady, who was 
listening absently to Edward Watton with oppressed 
and indrawn eyes, and Lady Maxwell. ' 

George, indeed, watched his wife constantly. He 
hungered to know more of that first scene between 
her and Lady Maxwell, or he thought with bitter re- 
pulsion of the letter she had confessed to him. Had 
he known of it, in spite of that strange, that com- 
pelling letter of Maxwell's, so reticent, and yet in 
truth so plain, he could hardly have come as a guest 


to Maxwell's house. As for her revelations about 
Cathedine, he felt little resentment or excitement. 
For the future a noxious brute had to be kept in order 

that was all. It was his own fault, he supposed, 
much more than hers. The inward voice, as before, 
was clear enough. ' I must just take her home and 
be good to her. She shirked nothing now, no doubt, 
she expects me to do my part/ 

' Do you notice those jewels that Lady Maxwell is 
wearing to-night?' said Betty at last, unable to keep 
away from the name. 

'I imagine they are a famous set?' 

' They belonged to Marie Antoinette. At last Max- 
well has made her have them cleaned and reset. What 
a pity to have such desperate scruples as she has about 
all your pretty things!' 

' Must diamonds and rubies, then, perish out of the 
world?' he asked her, absently, letting his eyes rest 
again upon the beautiful head and neck. 

Betty made some flippant rejoinder, but as she 
watched him, she was not gay. 

George had had but a few words with his hostess be- 
fore dinner, and afterwards a short conversation was 
all that either claimed. She had hoped and planned so 
much ! On the stage of imagination before he came 

she had seen his coming so often. All was to be 
forgotten and forgiven, and this difficult visit was to 
lead naturally and without recall to another and hap- 
pier relation. And now that he was here she felt her- 
self tongue-tied, moving near him in a dumb distress. 
Both realised the pressure of the same necessities, the 

[ 142 1 


same ineluctable facts; and tacitly, they met and 
answered each other, in the common avoidance of a 
companionship, which could after all avail nothing. 
Once or twice, as they stood together after dinner, he 
noticed amid her gracious kindness, her inquiries after 
Mrs. Allison or his mother, the search her eyes made 
for Letty, and presently she began to talk with nerv- 
ous, almost appealing, emphasis with a marked 
significance and intensity indeed of Letty's fatigue 
after her nursing, and the need she had for complete 
change and rest. George found himself half -resenting 
the implications of her manner, as the sentences flowed 
on. He felt her love of influence, and was not without 
a hidden sarcasm. In spite of his passionate gratitude 
to her, he must needs ask himself, did she suppose that 
a man or a marriage was to be remade in a month, 
even by her plastic fingers? Women envisaged these 
things so easily, so childishly, almost. 

When he moved away, a number of men who had 
already been talking to him after dinner, and some of 
the most agreeable women of the party besides, closed 
about him, making him, as it were, the centre of a 
conversation which was concerned almost entirely 
with the personalities and chances of the political 
moment. He was scarcely less astonished than Letty 
had been by his own position amongst the guests 
gathered under Maxwell's roof. Never had he been 
treated with so much sympathy, so much deference 
even. Clearly, if he willed it so, what had seemed the 
dislocation might only be the better beginning of a 
career. Nonsense! He meant to throw it all up as 
soon as Parliament met again in February. The state 
I 143 ] 


of his money affairs alone determined that. The strike 
was going from bad to worse. He must go home and 
look after his own business. It was a folly ever to 
have attempted political life. Meanwhile he felt the 
stimulus of his reception in a company which included 
some of the keenest brains in England. It appealed 
to his intelligence and virility, and they responded. 
Letty once, glancing at him, saw that he was talking 
briskly, and said to herself, with contradictory bitter- 
ness, that he was looking as well as ever, and was 
going, she supposed, to behave as if nothing had 

'What is the matter with you to-night, my lady?' 
said Naseby, taking a seat beside his hostess. * May 
I be impertinent and guess? you don't like your 
gems? Lady Leven has been telling me tales about 
them. They are the most magnificent things I ever 
saw. I condole with you/ 

She turned rather listlessly to meet his bantering 

'"Come you in friendship, or come you in war?" 
she said. ' I have no fight in me. But I have a great 
many things to say to you/ 

He reddened for an instant, then recovered himself. 

'So have I to you/ he said, briskly. 'In the first 
place, I have some fresh news from Mile End/ 

She half -laughed, as who should say, 'You put me 
off/ then surrendered herself with eagerness to the 
pleasure of his report. At the moment of his approach, 
under pretence of talking to an elderly cousin of 
Maxwell's, she had been lost in such an abstraction 
[ 144 ] 

Mrs. Ward's House in Oxford 


of powerless pity for George Tressady whose fair 
head, somehow, never escaped her, wherever it moved 
that she had hardly been able to bear with her 
guests or the burden of the evening. 

But Naseby roused her. And, indeed, his story so 
far was one to set the blood throbbing in the veins of 
a creature who, on one side pure woman, was on the 
other half poet, half reformer. Since the passage of 
the Maxwell Bill, indeed, Naseby and a few friends 
of his, some 'gilded youths' like himself, together 
with some trade-union officials of a long experience, 
had done wonders. They had been planning out the 
industrial reorganisation of a whole district, through 
its two staple trades, with the enthusiastic co-opera- 
tion of the workpeople themselves; and the result so 
far struck the imagination. Everywhere the old work- 
shops were to be bought up, improved, or closed; 
everywhere factories in which life might be decent, 
and work more than tolerable, were to be set up; 
everywhere the prospective shortening of hours, and 
the doing-away with the most melancholy of the home 
trades was working already like the incoming of a 
great slowly surging tide, raising a whole population 
on its breast to another level of well-being and of hope. 

Most of what had been done or designed was of 
course already well known to Maxwell's wife; she 
had indeed given substantial help to Naseby through- 
out. But Naseby had some fresh advances to report 
since she was last in East London, and she drank 
them in with an eagerness, which somehow assuaged 
a hidden smart ; while he wondered a little perhaps in 
his philosopher's soul at the woman of our English 
[ 145 ] 


day, with her compunctions and altruisms, her en- 
tanglement with the old scheme of things, her pining 
for a new. It had often seemed to him that to be a 
Nihilist nurse among a Russian peasantry would be 
an infinitely easier task than to reconcile the social 
remorses and compassions that tore his companion's 
mind with the social pageant in which her life, do 
what she would, must needs be lived. He knew that, 
intellectually, she no more than Maxwell saw any 
way out of unequal place, unequal spending, unequal 
recompense, if civilisation were to be held together; 
but he perceived that morally she suffered. Why? 
Because she and not some one else had been chosen 
to rule the palace and wear the gems that yet must 
be? In the end, Naseby could but shrug his should- 
ers over it. Yet even his sceptical temper made no 
question of sincerity. 

When all his budget was out, and her comments 
made, she leant back a little in her chair, studying 
him. A smile came to play about her lips. 

'What do you want to say to me?' he asked her 

She looked round her to see that they were not 

'When did you see Madeleine last?' 

'At her brother's house, a fortnight ago.' 

'Was she nice to you?' 

He bit his lip, and drew his brows a little together, 
under her scrutiny. 

' Do you imagine I am going to be cross-examined 
like this?' 

'Yes reply!' 

[ 146 ] 


'Well, I don't know what her conception of "nice- 
ness" may be; it did n't fit mine. She had got it into 
her head that I "pitied" her, which seemed to be a 
crime. I did n't see how to disprove it, so I came 

He spoke with a dry lightness, but she perceived 
anxiety and unrest under his tone. She bent forward. 

'Do you know where Madeleine is now?' 

'Not in the least.' 

' In the Long Gallery. I sent her there.' 

'Upon my word!' he said, after a pause. 'Do you 
want to rule us all?' His cheek had flushed again; 
his look was half -rebellious. 

A flash of pain struck through her brightness. 

'No, no!' she said, protesting. 'But I know you 

He rose deliberately, and bowed with the air of obey- 
ing her commands. Then suddenly he bent down to her. 

'I knew perfectly well that she was in the Long 
Gallery ! But I also knew that Mrs. Bayle had chosen 
to join her there. The coast, you may perceive, is 
now clear.' 

He walked away. Marcella looked round, and saw 
an elegant little bride, Mr. Bayle's new wife, rustling 
into the room again. She leant back in her chair, half- 
laughing, yet her eyes were wet. The new joy brought 
a certain ease to old regrets. Only that word 'rule' 
rankled a little. 

Yet the old regrets were all sharp and active again. 
It seemed to be impossible now to talk with George 
Tressady, to make any real breach in the barrier be- 
tween them; but how impossible also not to think of 


him ! of the young fellow, who had given Maxwell 
his reward, and said to herself such sad, such agitating 
things! She did think of him. Her heart ached to 
serve him. The situation made a new and a very 
troubling appeal to her womanhood. 

The night was warm and still, and the windows 
were open to it as they had been on that May night 
at Castle Luton. Maxwell came to look for Tressady, 
and took him out upon a flagged terrace that ran the 
length of the house. 

They talked first of the Ancoats incident, George 
supplementing his letters by some little verbal pict- 
ures of Ancoats's life and surroundings that made 
Maxwell laugh grimly from time to time. As to Mrs. 
Allison, Maxwell reported that Ancoats seemed to have 
gained his point. There was talk of the marriage com- 
ing off some time in the winter. 

'Well, Fontenoy has earned his prize/ said George. 

'There are more than twelve years between them. 
But she seems to be one of the women who don't age. 
I have seen her go through griefs that would kill most 
women; and it has been like the passage of a storm 
over a flower/ 

' Religion, I suppose, carried to that point, protects 
one a good deal/ said George, not, in truth, feeling 
much interest in the matter or in Mrs. Allison now 
that his task was done. 

'And especially religion of the type that allows 

you to give your soul into some one else's keeping. 

There is no such anodyne/ said Maxwell, musing. 

' I have often noticed how Catholic women keep their 

[ 148 ] 


youth and softness. But now, do allow me a few 
words about yourself. Is what I hear about your 
withdrawal from Parliament irrevocable?' 

George's reply led to a discussion in which Max- 
well, without any attempt at party proselytism, en- 
deavoured to combat all that he could understand of 
the young man's twofold disgust, disgust with his own 
random convictions no less than with the working of 
the party machine. 

'Where do I belong?' he said. 'I don't know my- 
self. I ought never to have gone in. Anyway, I had 
better stand aside for a time.' 

'But evidently the Malford people want to keep 

'Well, and of course I shall consult their conven- 
ience as much as I can,' said George, unwillingly, but 
would say no more. 

Nothing, indeed, could be more flattering, more 
healing, than all that was implied in Maxwell's earn- 
estness, in the peculiar sympathy and kindness with 
which the elder man strove to win the younger's con- 
fidence; but George could not respond. His whole 
inner being was too sore; and his mind ran incom- 
parably more upon the damnable letter that must be 
lying somewhere in the archives of the memory of 
the man talking to him, than upon his own political 
prospects. The conversation ended for Maxwell in 
mere awkwardness and disappointment, deep dis- 
appointment if the truth were known. Once roused, 
his idealism was little less stubborn, less wilful than 

When the ladies withdrew, a brilliant group of 
[ 149 ] 


them stood for a moment on the first landing of the 
great oak staircase, lighting candles and chattering. 
Madeleine Penley took her candle absently from Mar- 
cella's hand, saying nothing. The girl's curious face 
under its crown of gold-red hair was transformed 
somehow to an extraordinary beauty. The frightened 
parting of the lips and lifting of the brows had be- 
come rather a look of exquisite surprise, as of one who 
knows at last 'the very heart of love/ 

'I am coming to you, presently/ murmured Mar- 
cella, laying her cheek against the girl's. 

' Oh, do come ! ' said Madeleine, with a great breath, 
and she walked away, unsteadily, by herself, into the 
darkness of the tapestried passage, her white dress 
floating behind her. 

Marcella looked after her, then turned with shining 
eyes to Lady Tressady. Her expression changed. 

'I am afraid your headache has been very bad all 
the evening/ she said, penitently. 'Do let me come 
and look after you/ 

She went with Letty to her room, and put her into 
a chair beside the wood-fire, that even on this warm 
night was not unwelcome in the huge place. Letty, 
indeed, shivered a little as she bent towards it. 

'Must you go so early?' said Marcella, hanging 
over her. ' I heard Sir George speak of the ten-o'clock 

'Oh yes/ said Letty, 'that will be best/ 

She stared into the fire without speaking. Marcella 
knelt down beside her. 

'You won't hate me any more?' she said, in a low, 
pleading voice, taking two cold hands in her own. 
[ 150 ] 


Letty looked up. 

'I should like/ she said, speaking with difficulty, 
'if you cared to see you sometimes/ 

'Only tell me when/ said Marcella, laying her lips 
lightly on the hands, 'and I will come/ Then she 
hesitated. 'Oh, do believe/ she broke out at last, 
but still in the same low voice, ' that all can be healed ! 
Only show him love, forget everything else, and 
happiness must come. Marriage is so difficult such 
an art even for the happiest people, one has to 
learn it afresh day by day/ 

Letty's tired eyes wavered under the other's look. 

'I can't understand it like that/ she said. Then 
she moved restlessly in her chair. ' Ferth is a terrible 
place ! I wonder how I shall bear it !' 

An hour later Marcella left Madeleine Penley and 
went back to her own room. The smile and flush 
with which she had received the girl's last happy 
kisses disappeared as she walked along the corridor. 
Her head drooped, her arms hung listlessly beside her. 

Maxwell found her in her own little sitting-room 
almost in the dark. He sat down by her and took 
her hand. 

'You could n't make any impression on him as to 
Parliament?' she asked him, almost whispering. 

'No. He persists that he must go. I think his 
private circumstances at Ferth have a great deal to 
do with it.' 

She shook her head. She turned away from him, 
took up a paper-knife, and let it fall on the table be- 
side her. He thought that she must have been in 


tears, before he found her, and he saw that she could 
find no words in which to express herself. Lifting 
her hand to his lips, he held it there, silently, with 
a touch of tenderness. 

'Oh, why am I so happy!' she broke out at last, 
with a sob, almost drawing her hand away. 'Such a 
life as mine seems to absorb and batten upon other 
people's dues to grow rich by robbing their joy, joy 
that should feed hundreds and comes all to me ! And 
that besides I should actually bruise and hurt - 

Her voice failed her. 

'Fate has a way of being tolerably even, at last/ 
said Maxwell, slowly, after a pause. 'As to Tres- 
sady, no one can say what will come of it. He has 
strange stuff in him fine stuff, I think. He will 
pull himself together. And for the wife probably, 
already he owes you much ! I saw her look at you 
to-night once as you touched her shoulder. Dear ! 
what spells have you been using?' 

'Oh, I will do all I can all I can!' Marcella re- 
peated, in a low, passionate voice, as one who makes 
a vow to her own heart. 

'But after to-morrow he will not willingly come 
across us again,' said Maxwell, quietly. 'That I saw.' 

She gave a sad and wordless assent. 


LETTY TRESSADY sat beside the doorway of one of 
the small red-brick houses that make up the village 
of Ferth. It was a rainy October afternoon, and 
through the door she could see the black main street 
houses and road alike bedabbled in wet and mire. 
At one point in the street her eye caught a small 
standing crowd of women and children, most of them 
with tattered shawls thrown over their heads to pro- 
tect them from the weather. She knew what it 
meant. They were waiting for the daily opening of 
the soup-kitchen, started in the third week of the 
great strike by the Baptist minister, who, in the lan- 
guage of the Tory paper, was 'among the worst fire- 
brands of the district/ There was another soup- 
kitchen farther down, to which George had begun to 
subscribe immediately on his return to the place. 
She had thought it a foolish act on his part thus to 
help his own men to fight him the better. But 
now, as she watched the miserable crowd outside the 
Baptist chapel, she felt the teasing pressure of those 
new puzzles of her married life which had so far done 
little else, it seemed, than take away her gaiety and 
her power of amusing herself. 

Near her sat an oldish woman with an almost tooth- 
less mouth, who was chattering to her in a tone that 
Letty knew to be three parts hypocritical. 

'Well, the treuth is the men is that fool'ardy when 
[ 153 ] 


they gets a thing into their yeds, there's no taakin wi 
un. There's plenty as done like the strike, my lady, 
but they dursent say so they'd be afeard o' losin 
the skin off their backs, for soom o' them lads o' 
Bewick's is a routin rough lot as done keer what they 
doos to a mon, an yo canna exspeck a quiet body to 
stan up agen 'em. Now, my son, 'ee comes in at neet 
all slamp and downcast, an I says to 'im, " Is there noa 
news yet o' the Jint Committee, John?" I ses to un. 
" Noa, mither," 'ee says, " they 're just keepin ov it on." 
An 'ee do seem so down'earted when 'ee sees the poor 
soart ov a supper as is aw I can gie un to 'is stomach. 
Now, I'm wun o' thoase as wants nuthin. The doctor 
ses, " Yo ' ve got no blude in yer, Missus 'Ammersley, 
what 'ull yer 'ave?" An I says, " Nuthin! It's sun cut, 
an it's sun cooked, nuthin!" Noa, I've niver bin on 
t' parish an I might times. An I don't 'old wi 
strikes. Lor, it is a poor pleace, is ours ain't it? - 
an nobbut a bit o' bread an drippin for supper/ 

The old woman threw her eyes round her kitchen, 
bringing them back slyly to Letty's face. Letty ended 
by leaving some money with her, and walking away 
as dissatisfied with her own charity as she was with 
its recipient. Perhaps this old body was the only per- 
son in the village who would have begged of 'Tres- 
sady's wife' at this particular moment. Letty, more- 
over, had some reason to believe that her son was one 
of the roughest of Bewick's bodyguard ; while the old 
woman was certainly no worse off than any of her 

Outside, she was disturbed to find, as she walked 
home, that the street was full of people, in spite of 
[ 154 ] 



the rain of gaunt men and pinched women, who 
threw her hostile and sidelong glances as she passed. 
She hurried through them. How was it that she knew 
nothing of them except, perhaps, of the few toadies 
and parasites among them? How was one to penetrate 
into this ugly, incomprehensible worM of 'the peo- 
ple 7 ? The mere idea of trying to do so filled her with 
distaste and ennui. She was afraid of them. She 
wished she had not stayed so long with that old gossip, 
Mrs. Hammersley, and that there were not so many 
yards of dark road between her and her own gate. 
Where was George? She knew that he had gone up 
to the pits that afternoon to consult his manager about 
some defect in the pumping arrangements. She wished 
she had secured his escort for the walk home. 

But before she left the village she paused irreso- 
lutely, then turned down a side street, and went to see 
Mary Batchelor, George's old nurse, the mother who 
had lost her only son in his prime. 

When, a few minutes later, she came up the lane, 
she was flatly conscious of having done a virtuous 
thing several virtuous things that afternoon, but 
certainly without any pleasure in them. She did not 
get on with Mary, nor Mary with her. The tragic 
absorption of the mother little abated since the 
spring in her dead boy seemed somehow to strike 
Letty dumb. She felt pity, but yet the whole emotion 
was beyond her, and she shrank from it. As for Mary, 
she had so far received Lady Tressady's visits with a 
kind of dull surprise, always repeated and not flatter- 
ing. Letty believed that, in her inmost heart, the 
broken woman was offended each time that it was not 
[ 155 ] 


George who came. Moreover, though she never saic 
a word of it to Tressady's wife, she was known to be 
passionately on the side of the strikers, and her man- 
ner gave the impression that she did not want to be 
talking with their oppressors. Perhaps it was this 
feeling that had reconciled her to the loutish lad who 
lived with her, and had been twice 'run-in' by the 
police for stone-throwing at non-union men since the 
beginning of the strike. At any rate, she took a great 
deal more notice of him than she had done. 

No they were not very satisfactory, these at- 
tempts of Letty's in the village. She thought of them 
with a kind of inner exasperation as she walked home. 
She had been going to a few old and sick people, and 
trying to ignore the strike. But at bottom she felt an 
angry resentment towards these loafing, troublesome 
fellows, who filled the village street when they ought 
to have been down in the pits who were starving 
their own children no less than disturbing and cur- 
tailing the incomes of their betters. Did they suppose 
that people were going to run pits for them for no- 
thing? Their drink and their religion seemed to her 
equally hideous. She hated the two Dissenting minis- 
ters of the place only less than Valentine Bewick him- 
self, and delighted to pass their wives with her head 
high in air. 

With these general feelings towards the population 
in her mind, why these efforts at consolation and alms- 
giving? Well, the poor old people were not respons- 
ible; but she did not see that any good had come of 
it. She had said nothing about her visits to George, 
nor did she suppose that he had noticed them. He had 
[ 156 ] 


been so incessantly busy since their arrival with con- 
ferences and committees that she had seen very little 
of him. It was generally believed that the strike was 
nearing its end, and that the men were exhausted ; but 
she did not think that George was very hopeful yet. 

Presently, as she neared a dark slope of road, bor- 
dered with trees on one side and the high 'bank' of 
the main pit on the other, her thoughts turned back 
to their natural and abiding subject herself. Oh, 
the dulness of life at Ferth during the last three 
weeks! She thought of her amusements in town, of 
the country-houses where they might now be staying 
but for George's pride, of Cathedine, even ; and a rush 
of revolt and self-pity filled her mind. George always 
away, nothing to do in the ugly house, and Lady 
Tressady coming directly she said to herself, suf- 
focating, her small hands stiffening, that she felt fit 
to kill herself. 

Halfway down the slope she heard steps behind her 
in the gathering darkness, and at the same moment 
something struck her violently on the shoulder. She 
cried out, and clutched at some wooden railings along 
the road for support, as the lump of 'dirt' from the 
bank which had been flung at her dropped beside her. 

' Letty, is that you?' shouted a voice from the 
direction of the village her husband's voice. She 
heard running. In a few seconds George had reached 
her and was holding her. 

'What is it struck you? I see! Cowards! damned 
cowards ! Has it broken your arm? Try and move it.' 

Sick with pain she tried to obey him. 'No/ she said 
faintly; 'it is not broken I think not.' 
[ 157 ] 


'Good 1 / he cried, rejoicing; 'probably only a ba 
bruise. The brute mercifully picked up nothing very 
hard ' and he pushed the lump with his foot. ' Take 
my scarf, dear ; let me sling it. Ah ! what was that? 
Letty! can you be brave can you let me go one 
minute? I shan't be out of your sight/ 

And he pointed excitedly to a dark spot moving 
among the bushes along the lower edge of the 'bank/ 

Letty nodded. ' I can stay here/ 

George leapt the palings and ran. The dark spot ran 
too, but in queer leaps and bounds. There was the 
sound of a scuffle, then George returned, dragging 
something or some one behind him. 

' I knew it/ he said, panting, as he came within ear- 
shot of his wife; 'it was that young ruffian, Mary 
Batchelor's grandson! Now you stand still, will you? 
I could hold two of the likes of you with one hand. 

He had but just parted from his manager on the 
path which led sideways up the 'bank,' and waited 
anxiously to see if his voice would reach the Scotch- 
man's ears. But no one replied. He shouted again; 
then he put two fingers in his mouth and whistled 
loudly towards the pit, holding the struggling lad all 
the time. 

At the same moment a couple of heavily built men, 
evidently colliers, came down the road from the 
village. George at once called to them from across 
the palings. 

' Here, you there ! this young rascal has been throw- 
ing a lump of dirt at Lady Tressady, and has hit her 
badly on the arm. Will you two just walk him up 
[ 158 ] 


to the police-station for me, while I take my wife 

The two men stopped and stared at the lady by the 
railings and at Sir George holding the boy, whose 
white but grinning face was just visible in the growing 

' Noa,' said one of them at last, 'it's noa business ov 
ourn is it, Bill? 7 

' Noa/ said the other, stolidly ; and on they tramped. 

'Oh, you heroes!' George flung after them. /At- 
tacking a woman in the dark is about what you under- 
stand! Madan!' 

He whistled again, and this time there was a hurry- 
ing from overhead. 

'Sir George!' 

'Come down here, will you, at once!' 

In a few more minutes the boy was being marched 
up the road to the police-station in charge of the 
strong-wristed Scotch manager, and George was free 
to attend to Letty. 

He adjusted a sling very fairly, then made her cling 
to him with her sound arm ; and they were soon inside 
their own gates. 

'You can't climb this hill,' he said to her anxiously. 
' Rest at the lodge, and let me go for the brougham.' 

' I can walk perfectly well and it will be much 

Involuntarily, he was surprised to find her rather 
belittling than exaggerating the ill. As they climbed 
on in the dark, he helping her as much as he could, 
both could not but think of another accident and 
another victim. Letty found herself imagining again 
[ 159 ] 


and again what the scene with Lady Maxwell, after 
the East-End meeting, might have been like; while, 
as for him, a. face drew itself upon the rainy dusk, 
which the will seemed powerless to blot out. It was 
a curious and unwelcome coincidence. His secret 
sense of it made him the more restlessly kind. 

'What were you in the village for?' he asked, bend- 
ing to her; 'I did not know you had anything to do 

' I had been to see old Bessie Hammersley and Mrs. 
Batchelor,' she said, in a tone that tried to be stiff or 
indifferent. ' Bessie begged, as usual/ 

'That was very good of you. Have you been doing 
visiting, then, during all these days I have been 

'Yes a few people/ 

George groaned. 

'What's the use of it or of anything? They hate 
us and we them. This strike begins to eat into my very 
being. And the men will be beaten soon, and the 
feeling towards the employers will be worse than ever/ 

'You are sure they will be beaten?' 

'Before Christmas, anyway. I dare say there will 
be some bad times first. To think a woman even can't 
walk these roads without danger of ill-treatment! 
How is one to have any dealings with the brutes, or 
any peace with them?' 

His rage and bitterness made her somehow feel her 
bruises less. She even looked up in protest. 

' Well, it was only a boy, and you used to think he 
was n't all there/ 

'Oh! all there!' said George, scornfully. ' There 'd 
[ 160 ] 


be half of them in Bedlam if one had to make that 
excuse for them. There is n't a day passes without 
some devilry against the non-union men somewhere. 
It was only this morning I heard of two men being 
driven into a reservoir near Rilston, and stoned in the 

'Perhaps we should do the same/ she said, unwill- 

' Lean on me more heavily we shall soon be there. 

-You think we should be brutes too? Probably. 
We seem to be all brutes for each other that's the 
charming way this competitive world is managed. 
So you have been looking after some of the old people, 
have you? You must have had a dull time of it this 
last three weeks don't think I don't know that!' 

He spoke with emotion. He thought he felt her 
grasp waver a little on his arm, but she did not 

'Suppose when this business was over I were; 
to cut the whole concern let the pits and the house, 
and go right away? I dare say I could.' 

'Could you?' she said, eagerly. 

' We should n't get so much money, you know, as in 
the best years. But then it would be certain. What 
would you say to a thousand a year less?' he asked 
her, trying to speak lightly. 

'Well, it does n't seem easy to get on with what we 
have even if we had it,' she said, sharply. 

He understood the reference to his mother's debts, 
and was silent. 

But evidently the recollection, once introduced, gen- 
erated the usual heat and irritation in her, for, as they 
[ 161 ] 


neared the front door, she suddenly said, with an 
acerbity he had not heard for some weeks : 

' Of course, to have a country-house, and not to be 
able to spend a farthing upon it to ask your friends, 
or have anything decent is enough to make any one 
sick of it. And, above all, when we need n't have been 
here at all this October - 

She stopped, shrinking from the rest of the sentence, 
but not before he had time to think, ' She say that ! - 

Aloud he coldly replied : 

'It is difficult to see where I could have been but 
,here, this October/ 

Then the door opened, and the light showed her to 
him pale, with lips tight-pressed from the pain of her 
injury. Instantly he forgot everything but his natural 
pity and chivalry towards women. He led her in, and 
half-carried her upstairs. A little later she was resting 
on her bed, and he had done everything he could for 
her till the doctor should come. She seemed to have 
passed into an eclipse of temper or moodiness, and he 
got little gratitude. 

The evening post brought her a letter which he took 
up to her himself. He knew the clear, rapid hand, 
and he knew, too, that Letty had received many such 
during the preceding month. He stood beside hera 
moment, almost on the point of asking her to let him 
see it. But the words died on his lips. And, perceiv- 
ing that she would not read it while he was there, he 
went away again. 

When he returned, carrying a new book and asking 
if he should read to her, he found her lying with her 


cheek on her hand, staring into the fire, and so white 
and miserable that his heart sank. Had he married 
her, a girl of twenty-four, only to destroy her chance 
of happiness altogether? A kind of terror seized him. 
He had been 'good to her/ so far as she and his busi- 
ness had allowed him, since their return ; there had been 
very little outward jarring; but no one knew better 
than he that there had not been one truly frank or 
reconciling moment. 

His own inner life during these weeks had passed in 
one obscure continuous struggle a sort of dull fever 
of the soul. And she had simply held herself aloof 
from him. 

He knelt down beside her, and laid his face against 

'Don't look so unhappy!' he said in a whisper, 
caressing her free hand. She did not answer or make 
any response till, as he got up again in a kind of de- 
spair as to what to do or say next, she hastily asked : 

'Has the constable been up here to see you?' 

He looked at her in surprise. 

'Yes. It is all arranged. The lad will be brought 
up before the magistrates on Thursday/ 

She fidgeted, then said abruptly : 

' I should like him to be let off.' 

He hesitated. 

'That's very nice of you, but it would n't be very 
good for the district.' 

She did not press the matter, but as he moved away 
she said fretfully : 

'I wish you'd read to me. The pain's horrid.' 

Thankful, in his remorse, to do anything for her, he 


tried to amuse and distract her as he best could. But 
in the middle of a magazine story she interrupted 

'Isn't it the day after to-morrow your mother's 

'According to her letter this morning/ He put 
down the book. 'But I don't think you'll be at all fit 
to look after her. Shall I write to-night and suggest 
that she stay in London a little?' 

'No. I shall be all right, the doctor says. I want 
to tell Esther' - - Esther was the housemaid 'not to 
get the Blue Room ready for her. I looked in to-day, 
and it seemed damp. The back room over the dining- 
room is smaller, but it's much warmer.' 
. She turned to look at him with a rather flushed face. 

'You know best,' he said, smiling. 'I am sure it 
will be all right. But I shan't let her come unless you 
are better/ 

He went on reading till it grew late, and it seemed 
to him she was dropping off to sleep. He was steal- 
ing off by way of the large dressing-room near by, 
where he had been installed since their return, when 
she said faintly, 'Good-night!' 

He returned, and felt the drawing of her hot hand. 
He stooped and kissed her. Then she turned away 
from him, and seemed to go instantly to sleep. 

He went downstairs to his library, and gathered 
about him some documents he had brought back from 
the last meeting of the masters' committee, which had 
to be read. But in reality he spent an hour of random 
thought. When would she herself tell him anything 
of her relations to Lady Maxwell, of the nature and 
[ 164 ] 


causes of that strange subjection which, as he saw 
quite plainly, had been brought about? She must 
know that he pined to know ; yet she held her secret 
only the more jealously, no doubt to punish him. 

He thought of her visits to the village, half -humor- 
ously, half-sadly; then of her speech about the Blue 
Room and his mother. They seemed to him signs of 
some influence at work. 

But at last he turned back to his papers with a 
long impatient sigh. The clear pessimism with which 
he was wont to see facts that concerned himself main- 
tained that all the surrounding circumstance of the 
case was as untoward as it could be this dull house, 
a troubled district, his money affairs, the perpetual 
burden of his mother, Letty's own thirst for pleasure, 
and the dying-down in himself of the feelings that 
might once possibly have made up to her for a 
good deal. The feelings might be simulated. Was the 
woman likely to be deceived? That she was capable of 
the fiercest jealousy had been made abundantly plain ; 
and such a temper once roused would find a hundred 
new provocations, day by day, in the acts and doings 
of a husband who had ceased to be a lover. 

Two days later Lady Tressady arrived, with Jus- 
tine, and her dogs, and all her paraphernalia. She 
declared herself better, but she was a mere shadow of 
the woman who had tormented George with her debts 
and affectations at Malford House a twelvemonth 
before. She took Ferth discontentedly, as usual, and 
was particularly cross with Letty's assignment to her 
of the back room, instead of the larger spare room to 
the front of the house. 

[ 165 ] 


'Damp? nonsense!' she said to Justine, who 
was trying to soothe her on the night she arrived. 
' I suppose Lady Tressady has some friend of her own 
coming to stay that's, of course, what it is. C'est 
parfaitement clair, je te dis parfaitement ! ' 

The French maid reminded her that her daughter- 
in-law had said, on showing her the room, she had 
only to express a wish to change, and the arrange- 
ments should be altered at once. 

' I dare say/ cried Lady Tressady. ' But I shall ask 
no favours of her and that, of course, she knew/ 

'But, miladi, I need only speak to the housemaid/ 

'Thank you! Then afterwards, whenever I had a 
pain or a finger-ache, it would be, "I told you so! " 
No ! she has managed it very cleverly very cleverly 
indeed ! and I shall let it alone/ 

Thenceforward, however, there were constant com- 
plaints of everything provided for her room, food, 
the dulness of the place, the manners of her daughter- 
in-law. Whether it was that her illness had now 
reached a stage when the will could no longer fight 
against it, and its only effect was demoralizing; or 
whether the strange flash of courage and natural affec- 
tion struck from the volatile nature by the first threat 
of death could not in any case have maintained itself, 
it is hard to say. At any rate, George also found it 
hard to keep up his new and better ways with her. 
The fact was, he suffered through Letty. In a few 
days his sympathies were all with her, and to his 
amazement he perceived before long that, in spite of 
occasional sharp speeches and sulky moments that 
only an angel could have forborne, she was really 
[ 166 ] 


more patient under his mother's idiosyncrasies than 
he was. Yet Lady Tressady, even now, was rarely 
unmanageable in his presence, and could still restrain 
herself if it was a question of his comfort and repose ; 
whereas, it was clear that she felt a cat-like impulse 
to torment Letty whenever she saw her. 

One recent habit, however, bore with special heavi- 
ness on himself. Oddly enough, it was a habit of 
religious discussion. Lady Tressady in health had 
never troubled herself in the least as to what the 
doctors of the soul might have to say, and had gen- 
erally gaily professed herself a sceptic in religious 
matters, mostly, as George had often thought, for the 
sake of escaping all inconvenient restrictions such 
as family prayers, or keeping Sunday, or observing 
Lent which might have got in the way of her amuse- 

But now, poor lady, she was all curiosity and anxi- 
ety about this strange other side of things, and in- 
clined, too, to be rather proud of the originality of 
her inquiries on the subject. So that night after night 
she would keep George up, after an exhausting day, 
till the small hours, while she declared her own views 
'on God, on Nature, and on Human Life/ and en- 
deavoured to extract his. This latter part of the 
exercise was indeed particularly attractive to her; 
no doubt because of its difficulty. George had been 
a singularly reserved person in these respects all his 
life, and had no mind now to play the part of a coal- 
seam for his mother to ' pike' at. But ' pike' she would 

' Now George, look here ! what do you really think 
[ 167 ] 


about a future life? Now don't try and get out of it! 
And don't just talk nonsense to me because you think 
I'm ill. I'm not a baby I really am not. Tell me - 
seriously what you think. Do you honestly expect 
there is a future life?' 

'I've told you before, mother, that I have no par- 
ticular thoughts on that subject. It is n't in my line,' 
George would say, smiling profanely, but uneasily, 
and wondering how long this bout of it might be going 
to last. 

'Don't be shocking, George! You must have some 
ideas about it. Now, don't hum and haw just tell 
me what you think.' And she would lean forward, 
all urgency and expectation. 

A pause, during which George could think only of 
the ghastly figure on the sofa. She sat upright, gen- 
erally, against a prop of cushions, dressed in a white 
French tea-gown, slim enough to begin with, but far 
too large now for the shrunk form a bright spot of 
rouge on either pinched cheek, and the dyed 'fringe' 
and 'coils' covering all the once shapely head. Mean- 
while her hand would play impatiently on her knee. 
The hand was skin and bone; and the rings with 
which it was laden would often slip off from it to the 
floor a diversion of which George was always prompt 
to avail himself. 

'Why don't you talk to Mr. Fearon, mother?' he 
would say gently at last. 'It's his business to discuss 
these things.' 

' Talk to a clergyman ! thank you ! I hope I have 
more respect for my own intelligence. What can a 
priest do for you? What does he know more than 
[ 168 ] 


anybody else? But I do want to know what my own 
son thinks. Now, George, just answer me. If there 
is a future life' --she spread out her hand slowly on 
her lap 'what do you suppose your father 's doing 
at this moment? That's a thing I often think of, 
George. I don't think I want a future life if it's to 
be just like the past. You know you remember how 
he used to be poking about the house, and going 
down to the pits, and and swearing at the serv- 
ants, and having rows with me about the accounts 
and all his dear dreadful little ways? Yet, what else 
in the world can you imagine him doing? As to sing- 
ing hymns!' 

She raised her hands expressively. 

George laughed, and puffed away at his cigarette. 
But as he still said nothing Lady Tressady began to 

'That's the way you always get out of my ques- 
tions,' she said, fretfully; 'it's so provoking of you.' 

'I've recommended you to the professional,' he 
said, patting her hand. 'What else could I do?' 

Her thin cheek flamed. 

'As if we could n't be certain, anyway,' she cried, 
'that the Christians don't know anything about it. 
As M. d'Estrelles used to say to me at Monte Carlo, 
if there's one thing clear, it is that we need n't bother 
ourselves with their doctrines!' 

'Needn't we?' said George. Then he looked at 
her, smiling. 'And you think M. d'Estrelles was an 

Odd recollections began to run through his mind of 
this elderly French admirer of his mother's, whom 
[ 169 ] 


he had seen occasionally flitting about their London 
lodgings when, as a boy, he came up from Eton for 
his exeat. 

'Oh! don't you scoff, George/ said his mother, 
angrily. ' M. d'Estrelles was a very clever man, though 
he did gamble like a fool. Everybody said his memory 
was marvellous. He used to quote me pages out of 
Voltaire and the rest of them on the nights when we 
walked up and down the gardens at Monte Carlo, 
after he'd cleared himself out. He always said he 
did n't see why these things should be kept from 
women why men should n't tell women exactly 
what they think. And I know he'd been a Catholic 
in his youth, so he'd had experience of both. How- 
ever, I don't care about M. d'Estrelles. I want your 
opinions. Now, George!' - - her voice would begin to 
break ' how can you be so unkind? You might really 
compose my mind a little, as the doctors say!' 

And through her incorrigible levity he would see 
for a moment the terror which always possessed her 
raise its head. Then it would be time for him to go 
and put his arm round her, and try and coax her to 

One night, after he had taken her upstairs, he came 
down so wearied and irritable that he put all his letters 
aside, and tried to forget himself in some miscellaneous 

His knowledge of literature was no more complete 
than his character. Certain modern English poets - 
Rossetti, Morris, Keats, and Shelley he knew almost 
by heart. And in travels and biography mostly of 
men of action he had, at one time or another, read 
[ 170 ] 


voraciously. But 'the classics he had not read/ as 
with most of us, would have made a list of lamentable 

Since his return to Ferth, however, he had browsed 
a good deal among the books collected by his grand- 
father, mostly by way of distracting himself at night 
from the troubles and worries of the day. 

On this particular night there were two books 
lying on his table. One was a volume of Madame 
de Sevigne", the other St. Augustine's 'Confessions/ 
He turned over first one, then the other. 

'Au reste, ma fille, une de mes grandes envies, ce 
serait d'etre devote; je ne suis ni au Dieu, ni au 
Diable; cet 6tat m'ennuie, quoiqu'entre nous je le 
trouve le plus naturel du monde. On n'est point au 
Diable parce qu'on craint Dieu, et qu'au fond on a 
un principe de religion; on n'est point a Dieu aussi, 
parce que sa loi paroit dure, et qu'on n'aime point 
a se detruire soi-meme/ 

'Admirable!' he thought to himself, 'admirable!: 
We are all there my mother and I three parts of: 

But on a page of the other book he had marked 
these lines for the beauty of them : 

' Beatus qui amat te, et amicum in te, et inimicum 
propter te. Solus enim nullum eorum amittit, cui 
omnes in illo cari sunt qui non amittitur/ 

He hung over the fire, pondering the two utterances. 

'A marvellous music,' he thought of the last. 'But 
I know no more what it means than I know what a 
symphony of Brahms' means. Yet some say they 
know. Perhaps of her it might be true/ 


The weeks ran on. Outside, the strike was at its 
worst, though George still believed the men would 
give in before Christmas. There was hideous distress, 
and some bad rioting in different parts of the country. 
Various attempts had been made by the employers to 
use and protect non-union labour, but the crop of out- 
rage they had produced had been too threatening : in 
spite of the exasperation of the masters they had been 
perforce let drop. The Press and the Public were now 
intervening in good earnest ' every fool thinks he 
can do our business for us/ as George would put it 
bitterly to Letty. Bewick was speaking up and down 
the district with a superhuman energy, varied only 
^by the drink-bouts to which he occasionally suc- 
cumbed ; and George carried a revolver with him when 
he went abroad. 

The struggle wore him to death ; the melancholy of 
his temperament had never been so marked. At the 
same time Letty saw a doggedness in him, a toughness 
like Fontenoy's own, which astonished her. Two men 
seemed to be fighting in him. He would talk with 
perfect philosophy of the miners' point of view, and 
the physical-force sanction by which the lawless among 
them were determined to support it ; but at the same 
time he belonged to the stiffest set among the masters. 

Meanwhile, at home, friction and discomfort were 
constantly recurring. In the course of three or four 
weeks Lady Tressady had several attacks of illness, 
and it was evident that her weakness increased rap- 
idly. And with the weakness, alas ! the ugly incessant 
irritability, that dried up the tenderness of nurses, 
and made a battleground of the sick-room. Though, 
[ 173 ] 


indeed, she could never be kept in her room; she 
resented being left a moment alone. She claimed, in 
spite of the anxieties of the moment, to be constantly 
amused ; and though George could sometimes distract 
and quiet her, nothing that Letty did, or said, or wore 
was ever tolerable to a woman who merely saw in this 
youth beside her a bitter reminder of her own. 

At last, one day early in November, came a worse 
turn than usual. The doctor was in the house most 
of the day, but George had gone off before the alarm 
to a place on the further side of the county, and could 
not be got at till the evening. 

He came in to find Letty waiting for him in the 
hall. There had been a rally; the doctor had gone 
his way marvelling, and it was thought there was no 
immediate danger. 

'But oh, the pain!' said Letty, under her breath, 
pressing her hands together, and shivering. Her eyes 
were red, her cheeks pale ; he saw that she was on the 
point of exhaustion; and he guessed that she had 
never seen such a sight before. 

He ran up to visit his mother, whom he found 
almost speechless from weakness, yet waiting, with 
evident signs of impatience and temper, for her even- 
ing food. And while he and Letty were at their 
melancholy dinner together, Justine came flying 
downstairs in tears. Miladi would not eat what had 
been taken to her. She was exciting herself; there 
would be another attack. 

Husband and wife hurried from the room. In the 
hall they found the butler just receiving a parcel left 
by the railway delivery-cart. 
[ 173 ] 


George passed the box with an exclamation and a 
shudder. It bore a large label, ' From Worth et Cie,' 
and was addressed to Lady Tressady. But Letty 
stopped short, with a sudden look of pleasure. 

'You go to her. I will have this unpacked/ 

He went up and coaxed his mother like a child to 
take her soup and champagne. And presently, just 
as she was revived enough to talk to him, Letty ap- 
peared. Her mother-in-law frowned, but Letty came 
gaily up to the bed. 

'There is a parcel from Paris for you,.' she said, 
smiling. 'I have had it opened. Would you like it 
brought in?' 

Lady Tressady first whimpered, and said it should 
go back what did a dying woman want with such 
things? then demanded greedily to see it. 

Letty brought it in herself. It was a new evening 
gown of the softest greens and shell-pinks, fit for a 
bride in her first season. To see the invalid, ashen- 
grey, stretching out her hand to finger it was almost 
more than George could stand. But Letty shook out 
the rustling thing, put on the skirt herself that Lady 
Tressady might see, and paraded up and down in it, 
praising every cut and turning with the most ingen- 
ious ardour. 

'I shan't wear it, of course, till after Christmas/ 
said Lady Tressady at last, still looking at it with 
half-shut, covetous eyes. ' Is n't it darling the way 
the lace is put on! Put it away. George! it's the 
first I've had from him this year.' 

She looked up at him appealingly He stooped and 
kissed her. 

[ 174 ] 


' I am so glad you like it, mother dear. Can't you 
sleep now?' 

'Yes, I think so. Good-night. And good-night, 

Letty came, and Lady Tressady held her hand, 
while the blue eyes, still bearing the awful impress 
of suffering, stared at her oddly. 

' It was nice of you to put it on, Letty. I did n't 
think you'd have done it. And I'm glad you think 
it's pretty. I wish you would have one made like it. 
Kiss me.' 

Letty kissed her. Then George slipped his wife's 
arm in his, and they left the room together. Outside 
Letty turned suddenly white, and nearly fell. George 
put his arms round her, and carried her down to his 
?tudy. He put her on the sofa, and watched her 
tenderly, rubbing the cold hands. 

'How you could/ he said at last, in a low voice, 
when he saw that she was able to talk ; ' how you could ! 
I shall never forget that little scene.' 

'You'd have done anything, if you'd seen her this 
morning,' she said, with her eyes still closed. 

He sat beside her, silent, thinking over the miseries 
of the last few weeks. The net result of them- 
he recognised it with a leap of surprise seemed to 
have been the formation of a new and secret bond 
between himself and Letty. During all the time 
he had been preparing himself for the worst this 
strange thing had been going on. How had it been 
possible for her to be, comparatively, so forbearing? 
He could see nothing in his past knowledge of her to 
explain it. 

[ 175 ] ' 


He recalled the effort and gloom with which she had 
made her first preparations for Lady Tressady. Yet 
she had made them. Is there really some mystic 
power, as the Christians say, in every act of self-sacri- 
fice, however imperfect, a power that represents 
at once the impelling and the rewarding God, that 
generates, moreover, from its own exercise, the force 
to repeat itself? Personally such a point of view 
meant little to him, nor did his mind dwell upon it 
long. All that he knew was that some angel had stirred 
the pool that old wounds smarted less that hope 
seemed more possible. 

Letty knew quite well that he was watching her in 
a new way, that there was a new clinging in his touch. 
She, little more than he, understood what was happen- 
ing to her. From time to time during these weeks of 
painful tension there had been hours of wild rebellion, 
when she had hated her surroundings, her mother-in- 
law, and her general ill luck as fiercely as ever. Then 
there had followed strange appeasements, and inflow- 
ing calms moments when she had been able some- 
how to express herself to one who cared to listen - 
who poured upon her in return a sympathy which 
braced while it healed. 

Suddenly she opened her eyes. 

'Do you want to hear about that first time when 
she came to see me?' she whispered, her look waver- 
ing under his. 

He flushed and hesitated. Then he kissed her hand. 

'No, not now. You are worn out. Another time. 
But I love you for thinking of telling me/ 

A feeling of rest and well-being stole over her. 
[ 176 ] 


Mercifully he made no protestations, and she asked 
for none, but there was a gentle moving of heart 
towards heart. And the memory of that hour, that 
night, made one of the chief barriers between her and 
despair in the time that followed. 

Two days later a painless death, death in her sleep, 
overtook Lady Tressady. Her delicate face, restored 
to its true years, and framed in its natural grey hair, 
seemed for the first time beautiful to George when he 
saw her in her coffin. He could not remember admir- 
ing her, even when he was a boy, and she was reck- 
oned among the handsomest women of her day. Part- 
ing with her was like the snapping of a strain that 
had pulled life out of its true bearings and propor- 
tions. An immense, inevitable relief followed. But 
after her death Letty never said a harsh word of her, 
and George had a queer, humble feeling that after all 
he might be found to owe her much. 

For as November and December passed away the 
relation between the husband and wife steadily set- 
tled and improved. 'We shall rub along/ George 
said to himself in his frank, secret thoughts 'in 
the end it will be much better perhaps than either of 
us could have hoped/ That no doubt was the utmost 
that could ever be said ; but it was much. 

The night after his mother's death, Letty abruptly, 
violently even, as though worked up to it by an inner 
excitement, told him the story of her wrestle with 
Marcella. Then, throwing some letters into his hand 
she broke into sobbing and ran away from him. When 
he went to look for her his own eyes were wet. ' Who 
[ 177 ] 


else could have done such a thing?' he said ; and Letty 
made no protest. 

The letters gave him food for thought for many a 
day afterwards. They were little less of a revelation 
to him than the motives and personality lying behind 
them had been to Letty. In spite of all that he had 
felt for the woman who had written them, they still 
roused in him a secret and abiding astonishment. 
We use the words 'spiritual/ 'poetic' in relation to 
human conduct ; we talk as though all that the words 
meant were familiarly understood by us; and yet 
when the spiritual or the poetic comes actually to 
walk among us, slips into the forms and functions of 
our common life, we find it amazing, almost inhuman. 
It gives us some trouble to take it simply, to believe 
in it simply. 

Yet nothing in truth could be more inevitable 
outcome of character and circumstance than these 
letters of Marcella Maxwell to George Tressady's 
wife. Marcella had suffered under a strong natural 
remorse, and to free her heart from the load of it she 
had thrown herself into an effort of reconciliation and 
atonement with all the passion, the subtlety, and the 
resource of her temperament. She had now been 
wooing Letty Tressady for weeks, nor had the eager, 
contriving ability she had been giving to the process 
missed its reward. Letty fresh from the new im- 
pressions made upon her by Marcella at home, and 
Marcella as a wife, by a beauty she could no longer 
hate, and a charm to which she had been forced to 
yield, had found herself amid the loneliness and 
dulness of Ferth gradually enveloped and possessed 
[ 178 ] 


anew by the same influence, acting in ways that grew 
week by week more personal, and more subduing. 

What to begin with could be more flattering either 
to heart or vanity than the persistence with which one 
of the most famous women of her time watched, 
praised, copied, attacked, surrounded, as Letty knew 
her to be, from morning till night had devoted her- 
self first to the understanding, then to the capturing, 
of the smaller, narrower life. The reaction towards 
a natural reserve, a certain proud, instinctive self- 
defence, which had governed Marcella's manner during 
a great part of Letty's visit to the Court, had been in 
these letters deliberately broken down at first with 
effort, then more and more frankly, more and more 
sweetly. Day after day, as Letty knew, Marcella had 
taken time from politics, from society, from her most 
cherished occupations, to write to this far-off girl, 
from whom she had nothing either to gain or to fear, 
who had no claims whatever on her friendship, had 
things gone normally, while thick about the opening 
of their relation to each other hung the memory of 
Letty's insults and Letty's violence. 

And the letters were written with such abandon- 
ment! As a rule Marcella was a hasty or impatient 
correspondent. She thought letters a waste of time; 
life was full enough without them. But here, with 
Letty, she lingered, she took pains. The mistress 
of Les Rochers writing to her absent, her exacting 
Pauline, could hardly have been more eager to please. 
She talked at leisure of all that concerned her 
husband, child, high politics, the persons she saw, the 
gaieties she bore with, the books she read, "the schemes 


in which she was busied ; then, with greater tenderness, 
greater minuteness, of the difficulties and tediums of 
Letty's life at Perth, as they had been dismally drawn 
out for her in Letty's own letters. The animation, the 
eager kindness of it all went for much; the amazing 
self -surrender, self -offering, implied in every page for 
much more. 

Strange ! as he read the letters George felt his 
own heart beating. Were they in some hidden way 
meant for him too? --he seemed to hear in them 
a secret message a woman's yearning, a woman's 

At any rate, the loving, reconciling effort had done 
its work. Letty could not be insensible to such a 
flattery, a compliment so unexpected, so bewildering 
the heart of a Marcella Maxwell poured out to her 
for the taking. She neither felt it so profoundly, nor so 
delicately as hundreds of other women could have felt 
it. Nevertheless the excitement of it had thrilled and 
broken up the hardnesses of her own nature. And 
with each yielding on her part had come new capacity 
for yielding, new emotions that amazed herself; till 
she found herself, as it were, groping in a strange 
world, clinging to Marcella's hand, trying to express 
feelings that had never visited her before, one mo- 
ment proud of her new friend with a pride half moral, 
half selfish, the next, ill at ease with her, and through 
it all catching dimly the light of new ideals. 

One day, as George walked into Letty's sitting-room, 

to discuss some small business of the afternoon, he saw 

on her writing-table that same photograph of Lady 

Maxwell and her boy, whereof an earlier copy had 

[ 180 ] 


come to such a tragic end in Letty's hands. He walked 
up to it with an exclamation; Letty was not in the 
room. Suddenly, however, she came in. He made no 
attempt whatever to disguise that he had been looking 
at the photograph ; he bent over it indeed a moment 
longer, deliberately. Then, walking away to the win- 
dow, he began speaking of the matter which had 
brought him to look for his wife. Letty answered 
absently. The colour had rushed to her face. Her 
hands fidgeted with the books and papers on her table, 
and her mind was full of fevered remembrance. 

Presently George, having settled the little point he 
came to speak of, fell silent. But he still stood by the 
window, looking out through the rain-splashed glass 
to the wintry valley below, with its chimneys and 
straggling village. Letty, who was pretending to write 
a note, raised her head, looked at him the quick 
breath beating through the parted lips, the blue eyes 
half wild, half miserable. She was not nearly so pretty 
as she had been a year before. George had often 
noticed it ; it made part of his remorse. But the face 
was more troubling, infinitely more human; and, in 
truth, he knew it much better, was more sensitively 
alive to it, so to speak, than he ever had been in the 
days of their courtship. 

Before he left the room he came back to her, put his 
arm round her shoulders and kissed her hair. She did 
not raise her head or say anything. But when he had 
gone she looked up with a sudden fierce sob, took the 
photograph from its place, and thrust it angrily into 
the drawer in front of her. Afterwards she sat for 
some minutes, motionless, with her handkerchief at 
[ 181 ] 


her lips, trying to choke down the tears that h 
seized her. And last of all, with trembling fingers, she 
took out the picture again, wrapped it in some soft 
tissue paper that lay near, as though propitiating it, 
and once more put it out of sight. 

What had made her first ask Marcella for it, and 
then place it on her table where George might, nay, 
must see it? Some vague wish, no doubt, to 'make 
up'; to punish herself, while touching him. But the 
recollection of him, bending over the picture, tortured 
her, gripped her at the heart for many a day after- 
wards. She let it be seen no more. Yet that week she 
wrote more fully, more incoherently, more piteously 
to Marcella than ever before. She talked, not without 
bitterness and injustice, of her bringing-up, asked 
what she should read, spread out her puzzles with 
the poor, or with her household half-angrily, as 
though she were accusing some one. For the first time, 
as it were, she was seeking a teacher in the art of living. 
And though the tone was still querulous, she knew, 
and Marcella presently dared to guess, that the ugly 
house on the hill had in truth ceased to be in the least 
dull or burdensome to her. George went in and out of 
it. And for the woman that has come to hunger for 
her husband's step, there is no more ennui. 

Letty indeed hardly knew the strength of her own 
position. The reading of Lady Maxwell's letters to 
his wife had cleared a number of relics and fragments 
from George's mind. The day of passion was done. 
Yes ! but to see her frequently, to be brought back 
into any of the old social or political relations to her 
[ 182 ] 


and Maxwell, from this his pride shrank no less than 
his conscience. Yet there was a large party in his 
constituency, and belonging to it some of the men 
whose probity and intelligence he had come to rate 
most highly, who were pressing him hard not to resign 
in February, and, indeed, not to resign at all. The 
few public meetings he had so far addressed had been 
stormy indeed, but on the whole decidedly friendly 
to him, and it was urged that he must at least present 
himself for re-election, in which case his expenses 
should be borne, and he should be left as unpledged 
as possible. Since the passage of the Bill, Fontenoy's 
reactionary movement had lost ground largely in the 
constituency; and the position of independent mem- 
ber with a general leaning to the Government was no 
doubt easily open to George Tressady. 

But his whole soul shrank from such a renewal of 
the effort of politics probably because of that some- 
thing in him, that enfeebling, paralysing something, 
which in all directions made him really prefer the 
half to the whole, and see barriers in the way of all 
enthusiasms. Nevertheless, the arguments he had to 
meet, and the kind persuasions he had to rebut, made 
these weeks all the more trying to him. 

The second week of December came, the beginning 
of the end so far as the strike was concerned. The 
men's resources were exhausted; the masters stood 
unbroken. They had met the men in a joint commit- 
tee; but they had steadily refused arbitration from 
outside. At the beginning of this week, rioting broke 
out in a district where the Union had least strength, 
caused, no doubt, by the rage of impending failure. 
[ 183 ] 


By the middle of the following week, men were going 
in here and there, and the stampede of defeat had 

George, passing through the pinched and lowering 
faces that lined the village, hated the triumph of his 
class. On the 21st, he rode over to a neighbouring 
town, where local committees, both of masters and 
men, were sitting, to see if there was any final news 
as to the pits of his own valley. 

About eight o'clock in the evening Letty heard his 
horse's hoofs returning. She knew that he was accus- 
tomed to ride in the dark, but the rumours of violence 
and excitement that filled the air had unnerved her, 
and she had been listening to every sound for some 
time past. 

When the door was open she ran out. 

'Yes, I'm late,' said George, in answer to her 
remonstrances; 'but it is all right it was worth 
waiting for. The thing's over. Some of the men 
go down to-morrow week, and the rest as we can find 
room for them/ 

'On the masters' terms?' 

' Of course or all but/ 

She clapped her hands. 

'Oh, for goodness' sake, don't!' he said, as he hung 
up his hat, and she, supposing that he was irritable 
from over-fatigue, managed to overlook the sharpness 
of his tone. 

Their Christmas passed in solitude. George, more 

and more painfully alive to the disadvantages of 

Ferth as the home of a young woman with a natural 

love of gaiety, had tried, in spite of their mourning, 

[ 184 ] 


to persuade Letty to ask some friends to spend Christ- 
mas week with them. She had refused, however, and 
they were still alone when the end of the strike arrived. 

The day before the men were to go back to work, 
George returned late from a last meeting of the em- 
ployers. Letty had begun dinner, and when he walked 
into the dining-room she saw at once that some 
unusual excitement or strain had befallen him. 

' Let me have some food ! ' was all he would say in 
answer to her first questions, and she let him alone. 
When the servants were gone he looked up. 

' I have had a shindy with Bewick, dear rather 
a bad one. But that's all. I walked down to the sta- 
tion with Ashton' - Ashton was a neighbouring 
magistrate and coal-owner 'and there we found 
Valentine Bewick. Two or three friends were in 
charge of him, and it has been given out lately that 
he has been suffering from nervous breakdown, owing 
to his exertions. All that I could see was that he was 
drunker than usual no doubt to drown defeat. 
Anyway, directly he saw me he made a scene 
foamed and shouted. According to him, I am at the 
bottom of the men's defeat. It is all my wild-beast 
delight in the sight of suffering, my love of "fat- 
tening on the misery of the collier," my charming 
villanies of all sorts that are responsible for every- 
thing. Altogether he reached a fine flight! Then he 
got violent tried to get at me with his knobbed 
stick. Ashton and I, and the men with him, suc- 
ceeded in quelling him without bothering the police. 
I don't think anything more will come of it.' 

And he stretched out his hand to some salted 
[ 185 ] 


almonds, helping himself with particular delibera- 

After dinner, however, he lay down on a sofa in 
Letty's sitting-room, obliged to confess himself worn 
out. She made him comfortable, and after she had 
given him a cushion, she suddenly bent over him from 
behind and kissed him. 

'Come here!' he said, with a smile, throwing up 
his hand to catch her. But with an odd blush and 
conscious look, she eluded him. 

When, a little later, she came to sit by him with 
some needle-work she found him restless and inclined 
to talk. 

'I wonder if we are always to live in this state of 
war for one's bread-and-butter ! ' he said, impatiently 
throwing down a newspaper he had been reading. 
'It doesn't tend to make life agreeable does it? 
Yet what on earth ' 

He threw back his head, with a stiff, protesting air, 
staring across the room. 

Letty had the sudden impression that he was not 
talking to her at all, but to some third person, un- 

'Either capital gets its fair remuneration* --he 
went on in an argumentative voice 'and ability its 
fair wages or the Marxian state, labour-notes, and 
the rest of it. There is no halfway house absolutely 
none. As for me, I am not going to lend my capital for 
nothing nor to give my superintendence for nothing. 
And I don't ask exorbitant pay for either. It is quite 
simple. My conscience is quite clear.' 

'I should think so!' said Letty, resentfully. 'I 
[ 186 ] 


wonder whether Marcella is all for the men? She 
has never mentioned the strike in her letters/ 

As the Christian name slipped out, she flushed, and 
he was conscious of a curious start. But the breaking 
through of a long reticence was deliberate on her part. 

'Very likely she is all for the men/ he said, dryly, 
after a pause. ' She never could take a strike calmly. 
Her instinct always was to catch hold of any stick 
that could beat the employers Watton and I used 
often to tease her about it.' 

He threw himself back against the sofa, with a little 
laugh that was musical in Letty's ear. It was the first 
time that Lady Maxwell's name had been mentioned 
between them in this trivial, ordinary way. The 
young wife sat alert and straight at her work, her 
cheek still pink, her eyes bright. 

But after a silence, George suddenly sprang up to 
pace the little room, letting drop every now and then 
some queer fragmentary saying about the strike and 
the men, which would make Letty glance at him in 
perplexity, needle and hand pausing. 

'George, what is the matter with you?' she said at 
last, looking at him in some anxiety. 

' Oh ! nothing. I seem to be talking rot, don't I? 
Darling, who's ill? I saw the old doctor on the road 
home, and he threw me a word as he passed about 
having been here looked quite jolly over it. What's 
wrong one of the servants?' 

Letty put down her work upon her knee and her hands 
upon it. She grew red and pale ; then she turned away 
from him, pressing her face into the back of her chair. 

He flew to her, and she murmured in his ear. 
[ 187 ] 


What she said was by no means all sweetness. There 
was mingled with it much terror and some anger. 
Letty was not one of the women who take maternity 
as a matter of course. 

But emotion and natural feeling had their way. 
George was dissolved in joy. He threw himself at her 
feet, resting his head against her knee. 

* If he does n't have your eyes and hair I '11 disin- 
herit him/ he said, with a gaiety which seemed to have 
effaced all his fatigue. 

'I don't want him/ was her pettish reply; 'but if 
she has your chin, I '11 put her out to nurse. Oh ! how 
I hate the thought of it!' and she shuddered. 

He caught her hand, comforting her. Then, putting 
up both his own, he drew her down to him. 

'After all, little woman, it has n't turned out so 
badly?' he said in her ear, with sad appeal. Their 
lips met, trembling. Suddenly Letty broke into pas- 
sionate weeping. George sprang up, gathered her upon 
his knee, and they sat for long, in silence, clinging to 
each other. 

At last Letty drew back from him, pushing a hand 
against his shoulder. 

' You know you did n't care a bit for me when 
you married me/ she said, half -bitter, half-crying. 

'Didn't I? And you?' he asked, raising his eye- 

'Oh! I don't remember!' she said, hurriedly, and 
dropped her face on his coat again. 

' Well, we are going to care for each other/ he said in 
a low voice, after a pause. ' That's what matters now, 
is n't it?' 

[ 188 ] 


She made no reply, but she put up a hand, and 
touched his face. He turned his lips to the hand and 
kissed it tenderly. There was a sore, sad spot in each 
heart; and neither dared to look forward. But to- 
night there was a sense of belonging to each other in 
a new and sacred way, of being drawn apart, sepa- 
rated from the world, husband and wife, together. 
Through George's mind there wandered half-aston- 
ished thoughts about this strange compelling power 
of marriage, the deep grip it makes on life, the 
almost mechanical way in which it bears down resist- 
ance, provided only that certain compunctions, certain 
scruples still remain for it to work on. 

George slept lightly, being over-tired. All through 
the night the vision of the beaten men going down 
sullenly to their first shift seemed to hold him as 
though in a nightmare. It was a kind of moral nausea 
that oppressed him, affecting all his ideas of his own 
place and rights in a world of combat. 

' I shall get over it,' he said to himself in a half- 
waking interval. ' There is no sense in it.' 

Between seven and eight o'clock a sound startled 
him. He found himself standing by his bed, strug- 
gling to wake and collect himself. 

A sound that had shaken the house, passed like a 
dull thud through the valley. A horror seized him. 
He looked at Letty, who was fast asleep; then he 
walked noiselessly into his dressing-room, and began 
to hurry on his clothes. 

Five minutes later he was running down the hill 
at his full speed. It was bitterly cold and still; the 
[ 189 ] 


first snow lay on the grass, and a raw grey veil hung 
over the hills. As he came in sight of the distant 
pit-bank he saw a crowd of women swarming up it; 
a confused and hideous sound of crying and shrieking 
came to his ears; and at the same moment a boy, 
panting and dead-white, ran through the lodge-gates 
to meet him. 

'Where is it, Sprowston?' 

'Oh, sir, it's No. 2 pit. The damp's comin up the 
upcast, and the cage is blown to pieces. But the 
down shaft's all right, and Mr. Madan and Mr. Mac- 
gregor were starting down as I come away. There 
was eighty-six men and boys went down first shift.' 

George groaned, and rushed on. 


ENGLAND knows these scenes too well ! 

When Tressady, out of breath with running, reached 
the top of the bank, and threw a hurried look in front 
of him, his feeling was that he had seen everything 
before the wintry dawn, the crowds of pale men 
and weeping women ranged on either hand, the police 
keeping the ground round the shafts clear for the 
mine officials even the set white face of his man- 
ager, who, with Macgregor the fireman and two hewers, 
had just emerged from the cage that was waiting at 
the mouth of the down-cast shaft. 

As soon as Madan saw Tressady rounding the cor- 
ner of the engine-house he hurried towards his em- 

'Have you been down yet?' Tressady cried to him. 

'Just come up, sir. We got about fifty yards 
air fairly good then we found falls along the main 
intake. We got over three or four, till the damp rose 
on us too bad we had a rough bit getting back. I 
thought you'd be here by now. Macgregor thinks 
from the direction in which things were lying that 
the blast had come from Holford's Heading or there- 

And the manager hastily opened a map of the col- 
liery he was carrying in his hand against the wall of 
the engine-house, and pointed to the spot. 

'How many men there?' 

[ 191 ] 


'About thirty-two in the workings round about as 
near as I can reckon it." 

'Any sign of the rest? How many went down?' 

'Eighty-six. A cageful of men and lads just 
them from the shaft-bottom got up immediately 
after the explosion. Since then, not a sound from 
any one ! The uptake shaft is chock-full of damp. 
Mitchell, in the fan-room, had to run for it at first, 
it was coming up so fast.' 

'Good God!' said George, under his breath; and 
the two men eyed each other painfully. 

'Have you sent for the inspector?' said Tressady, 
after a moment. 

' He ought to be here in five minutes now, sir.' 

'Got some baulks together?' 

'The men are piling them by the shaft at this mo- 

'Fan uninjured?' 

'Yes, sir and speed increased.' 

Followed by Madan, Tressady walked up to the 
shaft, and himself questioned Macgregor and the two 

Then he beckoned to Madan, and the two walked 
in close converse towards the lamphouse, discussing a 
plan of action. As they passed slowly along the bank 
the eyes of the miserable terror-stricken throng to 
either side followed every movement. But there was 
not a sound from any one. Once Tressady looked up 
and caught the faces of some men near him dark 
faces, charged with a meaning that seemed instantly 
to stiffen his own nerve for what he had to do. 

'I give Dixon three more minutes,' he said, impa- 
[ 192 ] 


tiently looking at his watch; 'then we go down with- 
out him/ 

Dixon was the inspector. He was well known 
throughout the district, a plucky, wiry fellow, who 
was generally at the pit's mouth immediately after an 
accident, ready and keen to go with any rescue party 
on any errand, however dangerous purely, as he 
himself declared, for professional and scientific rea- 
sons. In this case, he lived only a mile away, on the 
farther side of the village, so that Madan's messenger 
had not far to go. 

As he spoke, George felt his arm clutched from 
behind. He turned, and saw Mary Batchelor, who 
had come forward from a group of women. 

'Sir George! Listen 'ere, Sir George/ Her lined 
face and tear-blurred eyes worked with a passion of 
entreaty. 'The boy went down at five with the rest. 
Don't yer bear 'im no malice. 'Ee's a poor sickly 
creetur, an the Lord an't give 'im the full use of his 

George smiled at the poor thing's madness, and 
touched her kindly on the shoulder. 

' Don't you trouble yourself, Mary ; all that can be 
done will be done for everybody. We are only 
giving Mr. Dixon another minute ; then we go down. 
Look here* --he drew her inside the door of the 
lamproom, which happened to be close by, for an 
open-mouthed group, eager to hear whatever he might 
be saying, had begun to press about them. ' Can you 
take this message from me up to the house? There'll 
be no news here, you know, for a long time, and I left 
Lady Tressady asleep.' 

[ 193 ] 


He tore a half-sheet from the letter in his pocket, 
scribbled a few words upon it, and put it into Mary's 

The woman, with her shawl over her head, ran past 
the lamphouse towards the entrance-gate as fast as her 
age would let her, while George rejoined Madan. 

'Ah, there he is!' 

For the small, lean figure of the inspector was al- 
ready passing the gate. 

Tressady hurried to meet him. 

By the time the first questions and answers were 
over, Tressady, looking round for Madan, saw that the 
manager was speaking angrily to a tall man in a 
rough coat and corduroy trousers who had entered 
the pit premises in the wake of Mr. Dixon. 

'You take yourself off, Mr. Bewick! You're not 
wanted here.' 

'Madan!' called Tressady, 'attend to Mr. Dixon, 
please. I '11 see to that man.' 

And he walked up to Bewick, while the men stand- 
ing near crowded over the line they had been told to 

'What do you want?' he said, as he reached the 

'I have come to offer myself for the rescue party. 
I've been a working miner for years. I've had special 
experience in accidents before. I can beat anybody 
here in physical strength.' 

As he spoke the great heavily built fellow looked 
round him, and a murmur of assenting applause came 
from the bystanders. 

Tressady studied him. 

[ 194 ] 


'Are you fit?' he said, shortly. 

Bewick flushed. Tressady's penetrating look forced 
his own to meet it. 

'As fit as you are/ was his haughty reply. 

'Weir --said Tressady, slowly, 'we don't want to 
be refusing strong men. If Madan '11 have you, you 
shall come. Mind, we're all under his orders/ 

He went to the manager, and said a word in his 
ear. Madan, in response, vouchsafed neither look 
nor remark to the man, whom he hated apparently 
more bitterly than his employer did. But he made 
no further objection to his joining the search-party. 

Presently all preparations were made. Picked bands 
of firemen and timbermen descended first, with Madan 
at their head. Then George, Mr. Dixon, a couple of 
local doctors who had hurried up to offer their serv- 
ices, and Bewick. 

As they shot down into the darkness George was 
conscious of a strange exhilaration. Working on the 
indications given him by the first exploring-party, his 
mind was alive with conjectures as to the cause of the 
accident, and with plans for dealing with the various 
obstacles that might occur. Never during these weeks 
of struggle and noise and objurgation had he felt so fit, 
so strenuous. At the bottom of the shaft he had even 
to remind himself, with a shudder, of the dead men 
who must be waiting for them in these blank depths. 

For some little distance from the shaft nothing was 
to be seen that spoke of an explosion. Some lamps in 
the porch of the shaft and along the main roadway were 
burning as usual, and the 'journey* of trucks, from 
which the 'hookers-on' and engine-men had escaped at 
[ 195 ] 


the first sign of danger, was standing laden in the 
entrance of the mine. The door of the undermanager's 
cabin, near the base of the shaft, was open. Madan 
looked into the little den, where the lamp was still 
burning on the wall, and groaned. The young fellow 
who was generally to be found there was a great friend 
of his, and they attended the same chapel together. 
A little farther an open cupboard was noticed with a 
wisp of spun yarn hanging out from it inflammable 
stuff, quite untouched. But about thirty yards farther 
they came upon the first signs of mischief. A heavy 
fall of roof had to be scrambled over, and beyond it 
afterdamp was clearly perceptible. 

Here there was an exclamation from Bewick, who 
was to the front, and the first victim showed out of the 
dark in the pale glow-worm light of the lamps turned 
upon him. A man lay on his side, close against the 
wall, with an unlocked lamp in his hands, which were 
badly burnt. But no other part of him was burnt, and 
it was clear that he had died of afterdamp in trying to 
escape. He had evidently come from one of the nearer 
work-places, and fallen within a few yards of safety. 
The inspector pounced upon the lamp at once, while 
the doctors knelt by the body. But in itself the lamp 
told little. If it were the illegal unlocking of a lamp 
that caused the disaster, neither this lamp nor this 
man could be at fault ; for he had died clearly on the 
verge of the explosion area, and from the after-effects 
of the calamity. But the inspector, who had barely 
looked at the dead man, turned the lamp round in his 
hands, dissatisfied. 

'Bad pattern! bad pattern! If I had my way I'd 
[ 196 ] 


fine every manager whose lamps could be unlocked/ he 
said to himself, but quite audibly. 

'The fireman may have unlocked it, sir, to re-light 
his own or some one else's/ said Madan, stiffly, put at 
once on his defence. 

'Oh! I know you're within your legal right, Mr. 
Madan/ said the inspector, briskly. '/ haven't the 
making of the laws/ 

And he sat down on the floor, taking the lamp to 
pieces, and bending his shrewd, black-eyed face over it, 
all the time that the doctors were examining its owner. 
He was, perhaps, one of the most humane of men in his 
profession, but a long experience had led him to the 
conclusion that in these emergencies the fragments of 
a lamp, or a 'tamping/ or a 'shot/ matter more to 
the community than dead men. 

Meanwhile George crouched beside the doctors, 
watching them. The owner of the lamp was a strong, 
fair-haired young man, without a mark on him except 
for the burning of the hands, the eyes quietly shut, the 
face at peace. One of the colliers in the search-party 
had burst out crying when he saw him. The lad was 
his nephew, and had been a favourite in the pit, partly 
because of his prowess as a football player. But the 
young life had gone out irrevocably. The doctor shook 
his head as he lifted himself, and they left him there, 
in order not to waste any chance of getting out the 
living first. 

Twenty yards farther on three more bodies were 
found, two oldish men and a boy, very little burnt. 
They also had been killed in escaping, dragged down 
by the inexorable afterdamp. 
[ 197 ] 


A little beyond this group a fall of mingled stone 
and coal from the roof blocked the way so heavily that 
the hewers and timbermen had to be set to work to 
open out and shore up before a passage could be made. 
Meanwhile the air in the haulage road was clearing 
fast, and George could sit on a lump of stone and 
watch the dim light playing on the figures of the men 
at work. The blows struck echoed from floor to roof; 
the work of the bare arms and backs, as they swayed 
and jerked, woke a clamour in the mine. Were there 
any ears still to listen for them beyond that mass? 
He could scarcely keep a limb quiet, as he sat looking 
on, for impatience and excitement. Bewick mean- 
while was wielding a pick with the rest, and George 
envied him the bodily skill and strength that, in spite 
of his irregular ways of life, were still left to him. 

To restore the ventilation-current was their first 
object, and the foremost pick had no sooner gained 
the roadway on the other side than a strong movement 
of the air was perceptible. Madan's face cleared. The 
ventilation-circuit between the down-cast and up-cast 
shafts must be already in some sort re-established. 
Let them only get a few more 'stoppings' and brat- 
tices put temporarily to rights, and the fan, working 
at its increased speed, would soon drive the renewed 
air-currents forward again, and make it possible to get 
all over the mine. The hole made was quickly en- 
larged, and the rescuers scrambled through. 

But still fall after fall on the farther side delayed 
their progress, and the work of repairing the blown- 
out stoppings by such wood brattice as could be got 
at, was long and tedious. The rescuers toiled and 
[ 198 ] 


sweated, pausing every now and then to draw upon 
the food and drink sent up from behind; and the 
hours flew unheeded. At last, upon the farther side 
of one of the worst of these falls a loose mingled 
mass of rock and coal they came on indications that 
showed them they had reached the centre and heart 
of the disaster. A door leading on the right to one of 
the side roads of the pit known as Holford's Head- 
ing was blown outwards, and some trucks from the 
heading had been dashed across the main intake, and 
piled up in a huddled and broken mass against the 
farther wall. Just inside that door lay victim after 
victim, mostly on their faces, poor fellows! as they 
had come running out from their stalls at the noise of 
the explosion, only to meet the fiery blast that killed 
them. Two or three had been flung violently against 
the sides of the heading, and were left torn, with still 
bleeding wounds, as well as charred and blackened by 
the flame. Of sixteen men and boys that lay in this 
place of death, not one had survived to hear the stifled 
words half groans, half sobs, of the comrades who 
had found them. 

'But, thank God! no torture, no thought,' said 
George to himself as he went from face to face; 'an 
instant a flash then nothingness/ 

Many of the men were well known to him. He had 
seen them last hanging about the village street, pale 
with famine the hatred in their eyes pursuing him. 

He knelt down an instant beside an elderly man 
whom he could remember since he was quite a boy 
a weak-eyed, sallow fellow, much given to preach- 
ing much given, too, it was said, to beating his wife 
[ 199 ] 


and children, as the waves of excitement took him. 
Anyway, a fellow who could feel, whose nerves stung 
and tormented him, even in the courses of ordinary 
life. He lay with his eyes half -open, the face terribly 
scorched, the hands clenched, as though he still fought 
with the death that had overcome him. 

George covered the man's face with a handkerchief 
as the doctor left the body. 'He suffered/ he said, 
under his breath. The doctor heard him, and nodded 

Hark ! What was that? A cry a faint cry ! 

'They're some of them alive in the end workings,' 
cried Madan, with a sob of joy. ' Come on, my lads ! 
come on!' 

And the party all but Mr. Dixon leaving the 
dead, pushed on through the foul atmosphere, over 
heaps of fallen stone and coal, in quest of the living. 

'Leave me a man,' said Mr. Dixon, detaining the 
manager a moment. ' I stay here. You have enough 
with you. If I judge right, it all began here.' 

A collier stayed with him, unwillingly, panting all 
the time under the emotion of the rescue the man 
imagined but was not to see. 

For while the inspector measured and sketched, far 
up the heading, in some disused workings off a side dip 
or roadway, Bewick was the first to come upon twenty- 
five men, eighteen of whom were conscious and un- 
injured. Two of them had strength enough, as they 
heard the footsteps and shouts approaching, to stag- 
ger out into the heading to meet their rescuers. One, a 
long, thin lad, came forward with leaps and gambols, 
in spite of his weakness, and fell almost at Tressady's 
[ 200 ] 


feet. As he recognised the tall man standing above 
him, his bloodless mouth twitched into a broad grin. 

'I say, give us a chance. Take me out won't 

It was Mary Batchelor's grandson. In retribution 
for the assault on Letty the lad had been sentenced to 
three weeks' imprisonment, and George had not seen 
him since. He stooped now, and poured some brandy 
down the boy's throat. 'We'll get you out directly/ 
he said, 'as soon as we've looked to the others/ 

'There's some on 'em not worth takin out,' said the 
boy, clinging to George's leg. ' They're dead. Take 
me out first.' Then, with another grin, as George dis- 
engaged himself, 'Some on 'em's prayin.' 

Indeed, the first sight of that little group was a 
strange and touching one. About a dozen men sat 
huddled round one of their number, a Wesleyan class- 
leader, who had been praying with them and reciting 
passages from St. John. All of them, young or old, 
were dazed and bent from the effects of afterdamp, 
and scarcely one of them had strength to rise till they 
were helped to their feet. Nevertheless, the cry which 
had been heard by their rescuers had not been a cry 
for help, but the voices of the little prayer-meeting 
raised feebly through the darkness in the Old Hun- 

A little distance from the prayer-meeting, the scep- 
tics of the party leant against the wall or lay along the 
floor, unheeding; while seven men were unconscious, 
and possibly dying. Two or three young fellows mean- 
while, who had been least touched by the afterdamp, 
had 'amused themselves,' as they said, by riding up 
[ 201 ] 


and down the neighbouring level on the ' jummer 
coal-truck of one of them. 

'Were n't you afraid?' Tressady asked one of these, 
turning a curious look at him, while the doctors were 
examining the worst cases, and rough men were sob- 
bing and shaking each other's hands off. 

'Noa,' said the young hewer, his face, like some- 
thing cut out in yellowish wax, returning the light 
from Tressady's lamp. 'Noa, theer was cumpany. 
Old Moses, there 'ee saved us.' 

Old Moses was the leader of the prayer-meeting. 
He was a fireman besides, who had been for twenty- 
six years in the mine. At the time of the explosion, 
it appeared, he had been in a working close to that 
door on the heading where death had done so ghastly 
and complete a work. But the flame in its caprice 
had passed him by, and he and another man had been 
able to struggle through the afterdamp back along the 
heading, just in time to stem the rush of men and 
boys from the workings at the farther end. These 
men were at the moment in a madness of terror, 
and ready even to plunge into the white death-mist 
advancing to meet them, obeying only the instinct 
of the trapped animal to 'get out.' But Moses was 
able to control them, to draw them back by degrees 
along the heading till, in the distant workings where 
they were found, the air was more tolerable, and they 
could wait for rescue. 

George was the first to help the old fireman to his 
feet. But instead of listening to any praises of his 
own conduct, he was no sooner clinging to Tressady's 
arm than he called to Madan: 'Mr. Madan, sir!' 
[ 202 ] 


'Aye, Moses/ 

'Have ye heard aught of them in the West Head- 
ing yet?' 

'No, Moses; we must get these fellows out first. 
We'll go there next/ 

' I left thirty men and boys there this morning at 
half -past six. It was fair thronged up with them/ 
The old man's voice shook. 

Meanwhile Madan and the doctors were busy with 
the transport of the seven unconscious men, some of 
whom were already dying. Each of them had to be 
carried on his back by two men, and as soon as the 
sick procession was organised it was seen that only 
three of the search-party were left free Tressady, 
Bewick, and the Scotch fireman, Macgregor. 

Up the level and along the heading, past the point 
where Dixon was still at work, over the minor falls 
that everywhere attested the range of the explosion,, 
and through the pools of water that here and there 
gathered the drippings of the mine, the seven men 
were tenderly dragged or carried, till at last the 
party regained the main intake or roadway. 

George turned to Madan. 

'You will have your hands full with these poor 
fellows. Macgregor and I Mr. Bewick, if he likes 
- will push on to the West Heading/ 

Madan looked uneasy. 

'You'd better go up, Sir George/ he said, in a low 
voice, 'and let me go on. You don't know the signs 
of the roof as I do. Eight or nine hours after an 
explosion is the worst time for falls. Send down 
another shift, sir, as quick as you can/ 
[ 203 ] 


'Why should you risk more than I?' said George, 
quietly. 'Stop! What time is it?' He looked at his 
watch. Five o'clock nearly nine hours since they 
descended! He might have guessed it at three, if 
he had been asked. Time in the midst of such an 
experience contracts to a pin's point. But the sight of 
the watch stirred a pang in him. 

'Send word at once to Lady Tressady/ he said, in 
Madan's ear, drawing the manager to one side. ' Tell 
her I have gone on a little farther, and may be an- 
other hour or two in getting back. If she is down at 
the bank, beg her from me to go home. Tell her the 
chances are that we may find the other men as safe as 
these/ * 

Madan acquiesced reluctantly. George then plun- 
dered him of some dry biscuits of some keys, more- 
over, that might be useful in opening one or two locked 
.doors farther up the workings. 

'Macgregor, you'll come?' 

'Aye, Sir George.' 

'You, Mr. Bewick?' 

' Of course,' said Bewick, carelessly, throwing back 
his handsome head. 

Some of the rescued men turned and looked hard 
at their agent and leader with their sunken eyes. 
Others took no notice. His prestige had been lost in 
defeat; and George had noticed that they avoided 
speech with him. No doubt this rescue party had 
presented itself to the agent as an opening he dared 
not neglect. 

'Come on, then,' said George; and the three men 
turned back towards the interior of the pit. 
[ 204 ] 


Old Moses, from whose clutch George had just 
freed himself, stopped short and looked after them. 
Then he raised a hoarse voice : 

'Be you going to the West Heading, Sir George?' 

'Yes/ George flung back over his shoulder, already 
far away. 

'The Lord go with yer, Sir George!' 

No answer. The old man, breathing hard, caught 
hold of one of his stronger comrades and tottered on 
towards the shaft. Two or three of his fellows gathered 
round him. 'Aye/ said one of them, out of Madan's 
hearing, "ee's been a-squeezing of us through the 
ground, 'ee 'ave, but 'ee 's a plucky lot, is the boss/ 

'They do say as Bewick slanged 'im fine at the 
station yesterday/ said another, hoarsely. ' Called 'im 
the devil untied, one man told me/ 

The first speaker, still haggard and bowed from the 
poison in his blood, made no reply, and the movement 
of old Moses' lips, as he staggered forward, helped on 
by the two others, his head hanging on his breast, 
showed that he was praying. 

Meanwhile George and his two companions pushed 
cautiously on, Macgregor trying the roof with his 
lamp from time to time for signs of fire-damp. Two 
seams of coal were worked in the mine, one of which 
was ' fiery.' No naked lights, therefore, were allowed, 
and all 'shots' or charges for loosening the coal were 
electrically fired. 

As they walked, they spoke now and then of the 
possible cause of the disaster : whereof Dixon, as they 
passed him, had bluntly declined to say a word till his 
[ 205 ] 


task was done. George, with the characteristic con- 
tempt of intelligence for the blunderer, threw out a 
few caustic remarks as to the obstinate disobedience 
or carelessness of a certain type of miner disobedi- 
ence, which, in his own experience even, had already 
led to a score of fatal accidents. Bewick, irritated 
apparently by his tone, took up a provoking line of 
reply. Suppose a miner, set to choose between the 
risk of bringing the coal-roof down on his head for 
lack of a proper light to work by, and the risk of 
'being blown to Heir by the opening of his lamp, did 
a mad thing sometimes, who were other people that 
they should blame him? His large, ox-like eyes, clear 
in the light of his lamp, turned a scornful defiance on 
his companion. 'Try it yourself, my fine gentleman' 
that was what the expression of them meant. 

'He doesn't only risk his own life/ said George, 
shortly. 'That's the answer. I say, Macgregor, 
is n't this the door to the Meadows Pit? If anything 
cut us off from the shaft, and supposing we could n't 
get round yet by the return, we might have to try it, 
mightn't we?' 

Macgregor assented, and George as he passed 
stepped up to the heavy wooden door, and tried one of 
the keys he held, that he might be sure of opening it 
in case of need. 

The door had been unopened for long, and he shook 
it backwards and forwards to make the key bite. 

Meanwhile Macgregor had lingered a little behind, 
while Bewick had walked on. Suddenly, above the 
rattle of the door a cracking noise was heard. A 
voice of agony rang through the roadway. 
[ 206 ] 


'Run, Sir George, run!' 

A rattle like thunder roared through the mine. It 
was heard at the pithead, and the people crowded 
there ran hither and thither in dismay, thinking it 
was another explosion. 

Hours passed. At last in George's numbed brain 
there was a faint stir of consciousness. He opened 
his eyes slowly. 

Oh, horrors ! oh, cruelty ! to come back from merci- 
ful nothingness and peace to this burning anguish, not 
to be borne, of body and mind. 'I had died/ he 
thought 'it was done with,' and a wild, impotent 
rage, as against some brutality done him, surged 
through him. 

A little later he made a first slight movement, which 
was answered at once by another movement on the 
part of a man sitting near him. The man bent over 
him in the darkness and felt for his pulse. 

'Bewick!' The whisper was just perceptible. 

'Yes, Sir George.' 

'What has happened? Where is Macgregor? Give 
me some brandy there, in my inner pocket.' 

'No; I have it. Can you swallow it? I have tried 
several times before, but your mouth was set it 
ran down my fingers.' 

' Give it me.' 

Their fingers met, George feeling for the flask. As 
he moved his arm a groan of anguish broke from 

' Drink it if you possibly can.' 

George put all the power of his being into the effort 
[ 207 ] 


to swallow a few drops. Still the anguish! '0 God, 
my back ! and the legs paralysed !' 

The words were only spoken in the brain, but it 
seemed to him that he cried them aloud. For a mo- 
ment or two the mind swam again; then the brandy 
began to sting. 

He slid down a hand slowly, defying the pain it 
caused him, to feel his right leg. The trousers round 
the thigh hung in ribbons, but the fragments lying on 
the flesh were caked and hard; and beneath him was 
a pool. His reason worked with difficulty, but clearly. 
'Some bad injury to the thigh/ he thought. 'Much 
bleeding probably the bleeding has dulled the worst 
pain. The back and shoulders burnt - 

Then, in the same hesitating, difficult way he man- 
aged to lift his hand to his head, which ached intoler- 
ably. The right temple and the hair upon it were also 
caked and wet. 

He let his hand drop. 'How long have I ?' he 
thought. For already his revived consciousness could 
hardly maintain itself; something from the back 
tunnels of the mine seemed to be perpetually pressing 
out upon it, threatening to drown it like a flood. 

'Bewick!' he felt again with his hand 
' where 's Macgregor ? ' 

A sob broke from the darkness beside him. 

'Crushed in an instant. I heard one cry. Why not 
we, too?' 

'It was such a bad fall?' 

'The whole mine seemed to come down.' George 
felt the shudder of the huge frame. 'I escaped; you 
must have been caught by some of it. Macgregor was 
[ 208 ] 


right underneath it. But there was an explosion 

'Macgregor's lamp? Broken?' whispered George, 
after a pause. 

'Possibly. It couldn't have been much, or we 
should have been killed instantly. I was only stunned 

- a bit scorched, too not badly. You're the lucky 
one. I shall die by inches.' 

'Cheer up!' said George, faintly. 'I can't last 
but they'll find you.' 

'What chance for either of us,' said Bewick, groan- 
ing. ' The return must be blocked, too, or they'd have 
got round to us by now.' 

' How long - 

' God knows ! To judge by the time I ' ve been sitting 

- since I got you here it's night long ago.' 
'Since you got me here?' repeated George, with 

feeble interrogation. 

'When I came to I was lying with my face in a 
dampish sort of hollow, and I suppose the afterdamp 
had lifted a bit, for I could raise my head. I felt 
you close by. Then I dragged myself on a bit, till I 
felt some brattice. I got past that, found a dip where 
the air was better, came back for you, and dragged 
you here. I thought you were dead at first ; then I felt 
your heart. And since we got here I ' ve found an air- 
pipe up here along the wall, and broken it.' 

George was silent. But the better atmosphere was 
affecting him somewhat, and consciousness was be- 
coming clearer. Only, what seemed to him a loud 
noise disturbed him tortured the wound in his head. 
Then, gradually, as he bent his mind upon it, he made 
[ 209 ] 


out what it was a slow drip or trickle of water from 
the face of the wall. The contrast between his im- 
agination and the reality supplied him with a kind 
of measure of the silence that enwrapped them - 
silence that seemed in itself a living thing, charged 
with the brooding vengeance of the earth upon the 
creatures that had been delving at her heart. 

' Bewick ! that water maddens me/ He moved 
his head miserably. 'Could you get some? The 
brandy-flask has a cup/ 

'There is a little pool by the brattice. I put my 
cap in as we got there, and dashed it over you. I'll 
go again/ 

George heard the long limbs drag themselves pain- 
fully along. Then he lost count again of time, and 
all impressions on the ear, till he was roused by the 
water at his lips and a hand dashing some on his brow. 

He drank greedily. 

' Thanks ! Put it by me there ; that 's safe. Now, 
Bewick, I'm dying. Leave me. You can't do any- 
thing and you you might still try for it. There 
are one or two ways that might be worth trying. 
Take these keys. I could explain - 

But the little thread of life wavered terribly as he 
spoke. Bewick had to put his ear close to the scorched 

'No/ he said, gloomily, 'I don't leave a man while 
there's any life in him. Besides, there's no chance - 
I don't know the mine/ 

Suddenly, as though answering to the other's de- 
spair, a throb of such agony rose in George it seemed 
to rive body and soul asunder. His poor Letty ! 
[ 210 ] 


his child that was to be ! his own energy of life, 
he had been so conscious of at the very moment of 
descending to this hideous death all gone, all done ! 
his little moment of being torn from him by the 
inexorable force that restores nothing and explains 

A picture flashed into his mind, an etching that he 
had seen in Paris in a shop-window had seen and 
pondered over. 'Entombed' was written underneath 
it, and it showed a solitary miner, on whom the awful 
trap has fallen, lifting his arms to his face in a last cry 
against the universe that has brought him into being, 
that has given him nerve and brain for this ! 

Wherever he turned his eyes in the blackness he saw 
it the lifted arms, the bare torso of the man, writh- 
ing under the agony of realisation the tools, symbols 
of a life's toil, lying as they had dropped for ever from 
the hands that should work no more. It had sent a 
shudder through him, even amid the gaiety of a Paris 

Then this first image was swept away by a second. 
It seemed to him that he was on the pit-bank again. It 
was night, but the crowd was still there, and big fires 
lighted for warmth threw a glow upon the faces. 
There were stars, and a pale light of snow upon the 
hills. He looked into the engine-house. There she 
was his poor Letty: God! He tried to get 
through to her, to speak to her. Impossible ! 

A sound disturbed his dream. 

His ear and brain struggled with it trying to give 
it a name. A man's long, painful breaths half sobs. 
Bewick, no doubt thinking of the woman he loved 


-of the poor emaciated soul George had seen him 
tending in the cottage garden on that April day. 

He put out his hand and touched his companion. 

'Don't despair/ he whispered; 'you will see her 
again. How strange we two we enemies but 
this is the end. Tell me about her/ 

' I took her from a ruffian who had nearly murdered 
her and the child/ said the hoarse voice after a pause. 
' She was happy in spite of the drink, in spite of 
everything she would have been happy, till she 
died. To think of her alone is too cruel. If people 
turned their backs on her, I made up/ 

'You will see her again/ George repeated, but 
hardly knowing what the words were he said. 

When he next spoke it was with an added strength 
that astonished his companion. 

'Bewick, promise me something. Take a message 
from me to my wife. Come nearer/ 

Then, as he felt his companion's breath on his cheek, 
he roused himself to speak plainly : 

' Tell her my love was all hers that I thanked 
her with my whole heart and soul for her love that 
it was very hard to leave her and our child. Write 
the words for her, Bewick. Tell her it was impossi- 
ble for me to write, but I dictated this.' He paused 
for a long time, then resumed : ' And tell her, too - 
my last wish was that she should ask Lord and 
Lady Maxwell can you hear plainly?' -he re- 
peated the names 'to be her friends and guardians. 
And bid her ask them from me not to forsake 
her. Have you understood? Will you repeat it?' 

Bewick, in the mood of one humouring the whim of 
[ 212 ] 


the dying, repeated what had been said to him word 
by word, his own sensuous nature swept the while by 
the terrors of a death which seemed but one little step 
farther from himself than from Tressady. Yet he 
did his best to understand, and recollect; and to the 
message so printed on his shrinking brain a woman's 
misery owed its only comfort in the days that followed. 

'Thank you/ said Tressady, painfully listening for 
the last word. ' Give me your hand. Good-bye. You 
and I- The world's a queer place I wish I'd 
turned you back at the pit's mouth. I wanted to show 
I bore no malice. Well at least I know - 

The words broke off incoherently. Bewick caught 
the word 'suffering,' and some phrase about 'the 
men,' then Tressady 's head slipped back against the 
wall, and he spoke no more. 

But the mind was active long afterwards. Again 
and again he seemed to himself standing in a bright 
light, alive and free. Innumerable illusions played 
about him. In one of the most persistent he was 
climbing the slope of a Swiss meadow in May. Oh! 
the scent of the narcissus, heavy still with the morning 
dew the brush of the wet grass against his ankles 
- those yellow anemones shining there beneath the 
pines the roar of the river in the gorge below - 
and beyond, far above, the grey peak, sharp and tall 
against that unmatched brilliance of the blue. In 
another he was riding alone in a gorge aflame with 
rhododendrons, and far down in the plain the 
burnt-up Indian plain some great fortified town, 
grave on its hill-top, broke the level lines 'A rose- 
red city, half as old as time.' Or, again, it was the sea 
[ 213 ] 


in some glow of sunset, the white reflexions of the 
sails slipping down and down through the translucent 
pinks and blues, till the eye lost itself in the infinity 
of shades and tints, which the breeze oh, the 
freshness of it ! was painting each moment anew 
at its caprice painting and blotting, over and over 
again, as the water swung under the ship. 

But all through these freaks of memory some strange 
thing seemed to have happened to him. He carried 
something in his arms on his breast. The anguish 
of his inner pity for Letty, piercing through all else, 
expressed itself so. 

But sometimes, as the brain grew momentarily 
clearer, he would wonder, almost in his old cynical 
way, at his own pity. She seemed to have come to 
love him. But was it not altogether for her good that 
his flawed, contradictory life should be cut violently 
from hers? Could their marriage, ill-planted, ill- 
grown, have come in the end to any tolerable fruit? 
His mind passed back, with bitterness, over the nine 
months of it ; not bitterness towards her he seemed 
to be talking to her all the time, as she lay hidden on 
his shoulder bitterness towards himself, towards 
the futility of his own life and efforts and desires. 

But why his more than any other? The futility, 
the insignificance of all that man desires, all that 
waits on him that old self -scorn, which began with 
the race, tormented him none the less, in dying, for 
the myriads it had haunted so before. An image of 
human fate, which had struck him in some book, 
recurred to him now an image of daisied grass, 
alive one moment in the evening light a quivering 
[ 214 ] 


world of blades and dew, insects and petals, a forest 
of innumerable lines, crossed by the innumerable 
movements of living things the next withdrawn 
into the night, all silenced, all effaced. 

So life. Except, perhaps, for pain ! His own pain 
never ceased. The only eternity that seemed con- 
ceivable, therefore, was an eternity of pain. It had 
become to him the last reality. What a horrible 
quickening had overtaken him of that sense for mis- 
ery, that intolerable compassion, which in life he had 
always held to be the death of a man's natural energy ! 
Again and again, as consciousness still flickered in 
the clouding brain, it seemed to him that he heard 
voices and hammerings in the mine. And while he 
listened, from the eternal darkness about him, dim 
tragic forms would break in a faltering procession 
men or young boys, burnt and marred and slain like 
himself turning to him faces he remembered. It 
was as though the scorn for pity he had once flung at 
Marcella Maxwell had been but the fruit of some ob- 
scure and shrinking foresight that he himself should 
die drowned and lost in pity; for as he waited for 
death his soul seemed to sink into the suffering of the 
world, as a spent swimmer sinks into the wave. 

One perception, indeed, that was not a perception 
of pain, seemed to spring out of the very sense of utter 
rout of helpless, infinite submission. The accusing 
looks of hungry men, the puzzles of his own waver- 
ing heart, all social qualms and compunctions these 
things troubled him no more. In the wanderings of 
death he was not without the solemn sense that, after 
all, he, George Tressady, a man of no professions, and 


no enthusiasms, had yet paid his share and done his 

Was there something in this thought that softened 
the dolorous way? Once nearly at the last he 
opened his eyes with a start. 

'What is it? Something watches me. There is a 
sense of something that supports that reconciles. 
If if how little would it all matter ! Oh ! what 
is this that knows the road I came the flame turned 
cloud, the cloud returned to flame the lifted, shifted 
steeps, and all the way !' His dying thought clung 
to words long familiar, as that of other men might 
have clung to a prayer. There was a momentary sense 
of ecstasy, of something ineffable. 

And with that sense came a rending of all barriers, 
a breaking of long tension, a flooding of the soul with 
joy. Was it a passing under new laws, into a new 
spiritual polity? He knew not; but as he lifted his 
sightless eyes he saw the dark roadway of the mine 
expand, and a woman, stepping with an exquisite 
lightness and freedom, came towards him. Neither 
shrank nor hesitated. She hurried to him, knelt by 
him, and took his hands. He saw the sweetness in 
her dark eyes. ' 7s it so bad, my friend ? Have courage 
the end is near. 1 'Care for her and keep me, too, 
in your heart,' he cried to her, piteously. She smiled. 
Then light blinding, featureless light poured 
over the vision, and George Tressady had ceased to 




IT ought to be stated that the account of the play Elvira, given 
in Chapter VII of the present story, is based upon an existing 
play, the work of a little known writer of the Romantic time, 
whose short, brilliant life came to a tragical end in 1836. 

M. A. W. 


bo many criticisms, not of a literary but of a personal 
kind, have been made on this little book since its ap- 
pearance, that I may perhaps be allowed a few words 
of answer to them in the shape of a short preface to 
this new edition. It has been supposed that because 
the book describes a London world, which is a central 
and conspicuous world with interests and activities of 
a public and prominent kind, therefore all the charac- 
ters in it are drawn from real persons who may be iden- 
tified if the seeker is only clever enough. This charge 
of portraiture is constantly brought against the novel- 
ist, and it is always a difficult one to meet ; but one may 
begin by pointing out that, in general, it implies a 
radical misconception of the story-teller's methods of 
procedure. An idea, a situation, is suggested to him by 
real life, he takes traits and peculiarities from this or 
that person whom he has known or seen, but this is 
all. When he comes to write unless, of course, it is 
a case of malice and bad faith the mere necessities 
of an imaginative effort oblige him to cut himself 
adrift from reality. His characters become to him the 
creatures of a dream, as vivid often as his waking life, 
but still a dream. And the only portraits he is drawing 
are portraits of phantoms, of which the germs were 
present in reality, but to which he himself has given 
voice, garb, and action. 

So the present little sketch was suggested by real 
[ 219 ] 


life ; the first hint for it was taken from one of the lines 
of criticism not that of the author adopted 
towards the earliest performances of an actress who, 
coming among us as a stranger a year and a half ago, 
has won the respect and admiration of us all. The 
share in dramatic success which, in this country at 
any rate, belongs to physical gift and personal charm; 
the effect of the public sensitiveness to both, upon the 
artist and upon art; the difference between French 
and English dramatic ideals ; these were the various 
thoughts suggested by the dramatic interests of the 
time. They were not new, they had been brought into 
prominence on more than one occasion during the last 
few years, and, in a general sense, they are common to 
the whole history of dramatic art. In dealing with 
them the problem of the story-teller was twofold on 
the one hand, to describe the public in its two divisions 
of those who know or think they know, and those 
whose only wish is to feel and to enjoy ; and on the 
other hand, to draw such an artist as should embody 
at once all the weakness and all the strength involved 
in the general situation. To do this, it was necessary 
to exaggerate and emphasise all the criticisms that had 
ever been brought against beauty in high dramatic 
place, while, at the same time, charm and loveliness 
were inseparable from the main conception. And 
further, it was sought to show that, although the Eng- 
lish susceptibility to physical charm susceptibility 
greater here, in matters of art, than it is in France - 
may have, and often does have, a hindering effect 
upon the artist, still, there are other influences in a 
great society which are constantly tending to neutral- 
[ 220 ] 


ise this effect ; in other words, that even in England an 
actress may win her way by youth and beauty, and 
still achieve by labour and desert another and a greater 

These were the ideas on which this little sketch was 
based, and in working them out the writer has not been 
conscious of any portraiture of individuals. Whatever 
attractiveness she may have succeeded in giving to her 
heroine is no doubt the shadow, so to speak, of a real 
influence so strong that no one writing of the English 
stage at the present moment can easily escape it ; but 
otherwise everything is fanciful, the outcome, and, 
indeed, too much the outcome, of certain critical ideas. 
And in the details of the story there has been no 
chronicling of persons; all the minor and subsidiary 
figures are imaginary, devised so as to illustrate to the 
best of the writer's ability the various influences which 
are continually brought to bear upon the artist in the 
London of to-day. There are traits and reminiscences 
of actual experience in the book, what story was 
ever without them? But no living person has been 
drawn, and no living person has any just reason to 
think himself or herself aggrieved by any sentence 
which it contains. 


IT is now twenty-five years since this tale was pub- 
lished, and as I turn over its pages I find myself 
walking in another world, amid another life. It was 
written partly in the dear old house in Russell Square 
where we were then living, partly in the farmhouse 
near Godalming where so much of 'Robert Elsmere' 
was composed during the years between 1885 and 
1888. 'Miss Bretherton' was my first serious attempt 
at a novel. After much scribbling of tales in my child- 
hood and school-days, after a long story in three vol- 
umes, written at the age of seventeen, and of no merit 
whatever, after the publication in, I think, 1869, of 
'A Westmoreland Story' in The Churchman's Maga- 
zine, and a later and much more ambitious effort 
called ' Vittoria/ a novel of Oxford life, which was never 
finished, I had come despondently to the conclusion 
that fiction was not for me. In the years between 1869 
and 1880, so far as writing was concerned, I turned 
entirely to history and criticism. My husband and I 
were then living in Oxford, where he was a college 
tutor. In our spare time we both wrote for the Satur- 
day Review; I took a small part in his delightful enter- 
prise of 'The English Poets/ and was proud to help 
him in the lectures on English literature he gave in 
different parts of England ; while during the latter part 
of the time I was for two or three years immersed in 
the work on early Spanish history and religion for the 
[ 222 ] 


' Dictionary of Christian Biography/ which was of so 
much use to me in helping to supply some few of the 
many defects of a very desultory education. Im- 
mersed, however, so far as the claims of three children 
would allow! For them a child's story, 'Milly and 
Oily/ was written in 1879, and published by Messrs. 
Macmillan, when I was already plunged in the history 
of West Gothic Kings and Bishops. In 1881 we left 
Oxford and that happy university life which had 
absorbed us for nearly ten years, in order to settle in 

This change of dwelling affected my literary pro- 
jects in many ways. One of its first results was to 
bring me into relation with my old friend Mr. John 
Morley, now Lord Morley of Blackburn, who was then 
editor both of the Pall Mall Gazette and of Macmillan' s 
Magazine. For him, as editor of Macmillan, I under- 
took a certain number of critical essays or 'causeries' 
in each year, which finally led me out of those twilight 
regions of history from the fourth to the eighth cen- 
tury A. D. in which I had been living, into the broad 
light of modern literature, especially French literature. 
From Mr. Morley, and from my uncle, Matthew 
Arnold, I had long before this caught the passion of 
French belles-lettres, and the articles in Macmillan, 
1 Miss Bretherton/ and the translation of, and an intro- 
duction to, Amiel's 'Journal Intime' show the influ- 
ence of this passion on one just emerged into a wider 
and more complete world, much bewildered often by 
the clash of that world, and far younger and cruder in 
regard to it than many of my juniors in age who had 
yet had the chance to be brought up in it. 'Miss 


Bretherton' seems to me now particularly young and 
crude, in all that we mean by knowledge of the world ; 
the work rather of a bookish girl of twenty than of a 
woman of thirty-three. It shows the first effect of 
London on academic inexperience; and it oddly trans- 
fers to London, and to our chaotic many-headed pub- 
lic opinion about art and artists, the same doctrine of 
a central authority, the same worship of the expert, 
the book, the document, the tradition, which I had 
learnt under the shadow of the Bodleian, from the 
influence of Mark Pattison, or from the author of 
'Essays in Criticism/ who was to me as to all my 
generation a voice of inspiration, discipline, and 

The situation handled in the book was, of course, 
suggested by the great success of one of the most 
charming actresses and most winning personalities of 
our theatrical day. Nobody who saw Miss Anderson as 
Galatea or Perdita will easily forget the impression of 
radiant beauty and girlish charm that she made upon 
London during her few short seasons. And the beauty 
was not only physical, it was accompanied by a sim- 
plicity, truth, and high-mindedness of nature which 
took the town by storm. Like thousands of others, I 
was touched, captured, carried away. But at the same 
moment, Madame Bernhardt, whom we had seen first 
at the Theatre Fra^ais, as Phedre, in 1874, was at the 
zenith of her fame, while the 'Maison de Moliere/ 
which Madame Bernhardt had already deserted, was 
the home of a wonderful group of artists Got, De- 
launay, Monnet-Sully, Coquelin, Reichemberg, Bartet, 
Samary, and many more with whose work Lon- 


doners were familiar. There was something in the 
contrasts of the time in the general inferiority of the 
English theatre to the French, then undisputed and 
indisputable in the stress laid by English audiences 
on physical beauty and personal charm, as compared 
with the stress laid by French audiences on trained 
resource and artistic intelligence in the artist's 
chance of development in the one milieu, as compared 
with his chance in the other which set fancy at 
work. Of the theatre from the inside I knew little or 
nothing ; I had no intention of describing a living per- 
son ; and there were few people in London, apart from 
her own circle, who were more under Miss Anderson's 
spell than I. But the loose, expansive English tradi- 
tion as contrasted with the more exacting French 
standards that was what I tried to get at, to 
embody in a tale. I protested then, and protest with 
equal sincerity now, that Isabel Bretherton was not 
a portrait of Miss Anderson, either in my heroine's, 
first stage of provincial inexperience or in her later 
stage of all-conquering genius. But it was perhaps, 
natural more natural than a novice in fiction was 
likely to understand that the world should insist 
on an interpretation so ready to hand; and, looking 
back, I can only remember with gratitude the generos- 
ity of 'a beautiful soul/ incapable of taking any petty 
personal offence where it knew well that none was ever 

The difference between art, conscious, trained, de- 
liberate art, and all that is not art, though it may take 
art's place and claim its rewards this then was the 
subject of the little book, and Isabel Bretherton, who 


begins as the charming amateur, ends as the great 
artist. The weakness of it lay in the fact that the 
writer of it had far too little knowledge of the par- 
ticular artistic life she was trying to analyse. The real 
processes and influences of the stage, its real struggles, 
humiliations, and triumphs are not here. A few weeks' 
literary coaching from an outsider will never make 
an actress out of an amateur ; and Isabel Bretherton's 
metamorphosis is unreal. What is genuine and of 
some value in the sketch if I may say so at this dis- 
tance of time is its touch of intellectual passion, and 
a certain directness and simplicity in the drawing of 
Isabel the woman, which atone somewhat for the lack 
of knowledge shown in the technical handling of the 
artistic subject. And perhaps I may be allowed also 
to take pleasure in those scenes of the book which 
: recall to me impressions and delights of youth the 
deep woods and rich reflexions of the Nuneham river 
the sounds and sights and scents of a Surrey com- 
mon in spring, its golden oak-leaf, its glistening haw- 
thorns, its diffusion of light and fragrance, the blue of 
its scattered ponds, the purples and greys of its dip- 
ping clouds. Those who have loved Oxford and the 
river, who have felt the charm of the student's life (the 
best passage in the book I think is that which de- 
scribes Eustace Kendal's joy in his work) and the wild 
spell of English commons, may still find something to 
please them in this very imperfect story ; and it is in 
that hope that I have republished it, after these many 
years of continuous labour in the artistic field, wherein, 
practically, it was my first effort. 
April, 1909. 



IT was the day of the private view at the Royal 
Academy. The great courtyard of Burlington House 
was full of carriages, and a continuous stream of guests 
was pressing up the red-carpeted stairs, over which 
presided some of the most imposing individuals known 
to the eyes of Londoners, second only to Her Majesty's 
beefeaters in glory of scarlet apparel. Inside, however, 
as it was not yet luncheon-time, the rooms were but 
moderately filled. It was possible to see the pictures, 
to appreciate the spring dresses, and to single out a 
friend even across the Long Gallery. The usual people 
were there : Academicians of the old school and 
Academicians of the new; R.A's coming from Ken- 
sington and the 'regions of culture/ and R.A.'s coming 
from more northerly and provincial neighbourhoods 
where art lives a little desolately and barely, in want 
of the graces and adornings with which ' culture' pro- 
fesses to provide her. There were politicians still 
capable as it was only the first week of May of 
throwing some zest into their amusements. There 
were art-critics who, accustomed as they were by pro- 
fession to take their art in large and rapid draughts, 
had yet been unable to content themselves with the 
one meagre day allowed by the Academy for the 


examination of some eight hundred works, and were 
now eking out their notes of the day before by a 
few supplementary jottings taken in the intervals of 
conversation with their lady friends. There were the 
great dealers betraying in look and gait their profound, 
yet modest, consciousness that upon them rested the 
foundations of the artistic order, and that if, in a super- 
ficial conception of things, the stare of an Academician 
differs from that of the man who buys his pictures in 
glory, the truly philosophic mind assesses matters dif- 
ferently. And, most important of all, there were the 
women, old and young, some in the full freshness of 
spring cottons, as if the east wind outside were not 
mocking the efforts of the May sun, and others still 
wrapped in furs, which showed a juster sense of the 
caprices of the English climate. Among them one 
might distinguish the usual shades and species: the 
familiar country cousin, gathering material for the 
overawing of such of her neighbours as were unable 
to dip themselves every year in the stream of London ; 
the women folk of the artist world, presenting greater 
varieties of type than the women of any other class 
can boast; and lastly, a sprinkling of the women of 
what calls itself 'London Society/ as well dressed, as 
well mannered, and as well provided with acquaintance 
as is the custom of their kind. 

In one of the farther rooms, more scantily peopled 
as yet than the rest, a tall thin man was strolling list- 
lessly from picture to picture, making every now and 
then hasty references to his catalogue, but in general 
eyeing all he saw with the look of one in whom famil- 
iarity with the sight before him had bred weariness, 
[ 228 ] 


if not contempt. He was a handsome man, with a 
broad brow and a pleasant gentleness of expression. 
The eyes were fine and thoughtful, and there was a 
combination of intellectual force with great delicacy of 
line in the contour of the head and face which was 
particularly attractive, especially to women of the 
more cultivated and impressionable sort. His thin 
greyish hair was rather long not of that pronounced 
length which inevitably challenges the decision of the 
bystander as to whether the wearer be fool or poet, but 
still long enough to fall a little carelessly round the 
head and so take off from the spruce conventional 
effect of the owner's irreproachable dress and general 
London air. 

Mr. Eustace Kendal to give the person we have 
been describing his name was not apparently in a 
good temper with his surroundings. He was standing 
with a dissatisfied expression before a Venetian scene 
drawn by a brilliant member of a group of English 
artists settled on foreign soil and trained in foreign 

'Not so good as last year/ he was remarking to 
himself. 'Vulgar drawing, vulgar composition, hasty 
work everywhere. It is success spoils all these men 
success and the amount of money there is going. The 
man who painted this did n't get any pleasure out of it. 
But it's the same all round. It is money and luxury 
and the struggle to live which are driving us all on 
and killing the artist's natural joy in his work. And 
presently, as that odd little Frenchman said to me last 
year, we shall have dropped irretrievably into the 
"lowest depth of mediocrity."' 
[ 229 ] 


'Kendal !' said an eager voice close to his ear, while 
a hand was laid on his arm, 'do you know that girl? 7 

Kendal turned in astonishment and saw a short 
oldish man, in whom he recognised a famous artist, 
standing by, his keen mobile face wearing an expres- 
sion of strong interest and inquiry. 

'What girl?' he asked, with a smile, shaking his 
questioner by the hand. 

'That girl in black, standing by Orchardson's pic- 
ture. Why, you must know her by sight! It's Miss 
Bretherton, the actress. Did you ever see such 
beauty? I must get somebody to introduce me to her. 
There's nothing worth looking at since she came in. 
But, by ill luck, nobody here seems to know her/ 

Eustace Kendal, to whom the warm artist's temper- 
ament of his friend was well known, turned with some 
amusement towards the picture named, and noticed 
that flutter in the room which shows that something or 
some one of interest is present. People trying to look 
unconcerned, and catalogue in hand, were edging 
towards the spot where the lady in black stood, 
glancing alternately at her and at the pictures, in the 
manner of those equally determined to satisfy their 
curiosity and their sense of politeness. The lady in 
question, meanwhile, conscious that she was being 
looked at, but not apparently disturbed by it, was 
talking to another lady, the only person with her, a 
tall, gaunt woman, also dressed in black and gifted 
abundantly with the forbidding aspect which beauty 
requires in its duenna. 

Kendal could see nothing more at first than a tall, 
slender figure, a beautiful head, and a delicate white 
[ 230 ] 


profile, in flashing contrast with its black surroundings, 
and with lines of golden brown hair. But in profile 
and figure there was an extraordinary distinction and 
grace which reconciled him to his friend's eagerness 
and made him wish for the beauty's next movement. 
Presently she turned and caught the gaze of the two 
men full upon her. Her eyes dropped a little, but 
there was nothing ill-bred or excessive in her self- 
consciousness. She took her companion's arm with a 
quiet movement, and drew her towards one of the 
striking pictures of the year, some little way off. The 
two men also turned and walked away. 

' I never saw such beauty as that before/ said the 
artist, with emphasis. 'I must find some one who 
knows her, and get the chance of seeing that face 
light up, else I shall go home one may as well. 
These daubs are not worth the trouble of considering 

'See what it is to be an "ideal painter,"' said 
Kendal, laughing. 'At home one paints river god- 
desses, and tree-nymphs, and such like remote creat- 
ures, and abroad one falls a victim to the first well- 
dressed, healthy-looking girl chaperone, bonnet, and 

'Show me another like her,' said his friend warmly. 
'I tell you they're not to be met with like that every 
day. Je me connais en beaute, my dear fellow, and I 
never saw such perfection, both of line and colour, as 
that. It is extraordinary ; it excites one as an artist. 
Look, is that Wallace now going up to her?' 

Kendal turned and saw a short fair man, with a 
dry keen American face, walk up to the beauty and 
[ 231 ] 


speak to her. She greeted him cordially, with a beam- 
ing smile and bright emphatic movements of the head, 
and the three strolled on. 

' Yes, that is Edward Wallace, very much in it, 
apparently. That is the way Americans have. They 
always know everybody it's desirable to know. But 
now 's your chance, Forbes. Stroll carelessly past them, 
catch Wallace's eye, and the thing is done.' 

Mr. Forbes had already dropped Kendal's arm, and 
was sauntering across the room towards the chatting 
trio. Kendal watched the scene from a distance with 
some amusement ; saw his friend brush carelessly past 
the American, look back, smile, stop, and hold out his 
hand; evidently a whisper passed between them, for 
the next moment Mr. Forbes was making a low bow to 
the beauty, and immediately afterwards Kendal saw 
his fine grey head and stooping shoulders disappear 
into the next room, side by side with Miss Bretherton's 
erect and graceful figure. 

Kendal betook himself once more to the pictures, 
and, presently finding some acquaintances, made a 
rapid tour of the rooms with them, parting with them 
at the entrance that he might himself go back and look 
at two or three things in the sculpture room which he 
had been told were important and promising. There he 
came across the American, Edward Wallace, who at 
once took him by the arm with the manner of an old 
friend and a little burst of laughter. 

'So you saw the introduction? What a man is 

Forbes ! He is as young still as he was at eighteen. I 

envy him. He took Miss Bretherton right round, 

talked to her of all his favourite hobbies, looked at her 

[ 232 ] 


in a way which would have been awkward if it had 
been anybody else but such a gentlemanly maniac as 
Forbes, and has almost made her promise to sit to him. 
Miss Bretherton was a little bewildered, I think. She 
is so new to London that she does n't know who 's who 
yet in the least. I had to take her aside and explain to 
her Forbes's honours ; then she fired up there is a 
nai've hero-worship about her just now that she is 
fresh from a colony and made herself as pleasant to 
him as a girl could be. I prophesy Forbes will think of 
nothing else for the season/ 

'Well, she's a brilliant creature,' said Kendal. 'It's 
extraordinary how she shone out beside the pretty 
English girls about her. It is an intoxicating posses- 
sion for a woman, such beauty as that; it's like roy- 
alty; it places the individual under conditions quite 
unlike those of common mortals. I suppose it's that 
rather than any real ability as an actress that has made 
her a success? I noticed the papers said as much 
some more politely than others.' 

' Oh, she's not much of an actress ; she has no train- 
ing, no finesse. But you'll see, she'll be the great 
success of the season. She has wonderful grace on the 
stage, and a fine voice in spite of tricks. And then her 
Wesen is so attractive; she is such a frank, unspoilt, 
good-hearted creature. Her audience falls in love with 
her, and that goes a long way. But I wish she had 
had a trifle more education and something worth call- 
ing a training. Her manager, Robinson, talks of her 
attempting all the great parts; but it's absurd. She 
talks very naively and prettily about "her art"; but 
really she knows no more about it than a baby, and it 
[ 233 ] 


is perhaps part of her charm that she is so unconscious 
of her ignorance/ 

'It is strange how little critical English audiences 
are/ said Kendal. ' I believe we are the simplest people 
in the world. All that we ask is that our feelings 
should be touched a little, but whether by the art or 
the artist does n't matter. She has not been long play- 
ing in London, has she?' 

'Only a few weeks. It's only about two months 
since she landed from Jamaica. She has a curious 
history, if you care to hear it; I don't think I've seen 
you at all since I made friends with her?' 

'No,' said Kendal; 'I was beginning to suspect that 
something absorbing had got hold of you. I 've looked 
for you two or three times at the club, and could not 
find you.' 

'Oh, it's not Miss Bretherton that has taken up my 
time. She 's so busy that nobody can see much of her. 
But I have taken her and her people out, two or three 
times, sight-seeing, since they came Westminster 
Abbey, the National Gallery, and so forth. She is very 
keen about everything, and the Worralls her uncle 
and aunt stick to her pretty closely.' 

'Where does she come from?' 

'Well, her father was the Scotch overseer of a sugar 
plantation not far from Kingston, and he married an 
Italian, one of your fair Venetian type a strange 
race-combination; I suppose it's the secret of the 
brilliancy and out-of-the-wayness of the girl's beauty. 
Her mother died when she was small, and the child 
grew up alone. Her father, however, seems to have 
been a good sort of man, and to have looked after her. 
[ 234 ] 


Presently she drew the attention of an uncle, a shop- 
keeper in Kingston, and a shrewd, hard, money-mak- 
ing fellow, who saw there was something to be made 
out of her. She had already shown a turn for reciting, 
and had performed at various places in the school- 
room belonging to the estate, and so on. The father 
did n't encourage her fancy for it, naturally, being 
Scotch and Presbyterian. However, he died of fever, 
and then the child at sixteen fell into her uncle's 
charge. He seems to have seen at once exactly what 
line to take. To put it cynically, I imagine he argued 
something like this : " Beauty extraordinary char- 
acter everything that could be desired talent not 
much. So that the things to stake on are the beauty 
and the character, and let the talent take care of 
itself." Anyhow, he got her on to the Kingston thea- 
tre a poor little place enough and he and the 
aunt, that sour-looking creature you saw with her,, 
looked after her like dragons. Naturally, she was soon- 
the talk of Kingston: what with her looks and her 
grace and the difficulty of coming near her, the whole- 
European society, the garrison, Government House, 
and all, were at her feet. Then the uncle played his 
cards for a European engagement. You remember 
that Governor Rutherford they had a little time ago? 
the writer of that little set of drawing-room plays - 
Nineteenth Century Interludes, I think he called them? 
It was his last year, and he started for home while 
Isabel Bretherton was acting at Kingston. He came 
home full of her, and, knowing all the theatrical people 
here, he was able to place her at once. Robinson de- 
cided to speculate in her, telegraphed out for her, 
[ 235 ] 


and here she is, uncle, aunt, and invalid sister into the 

'Oh, she has a sister?' 

' Yes ; a little, white, crippled thing, peevish crip- 
ples generally are but full of a curious force of some 
hidden kind. Isabel is very good to her, and rather 
afraid of her. It seems to me that she is afraid of all 
her belongings. I believe they put upon her, and she 
has as much capacity as anybody I ever knew for let- 
ting herself be trampled upon/ 

'What, that splendid, vivacious creature!' said 
Kendal, incredulously. ' I think I 'd back her for hold- 
ing her own/ 

'Ah, well, you see/ said the American, with the 
quiet superiority of a three weeks' acquaintance, 'I 
know something of her by now, and she's not quite 
what you might think her at first sight. However, 
whether she is afraid of them or not, it's to be hoped 
they will take care of her. Naturally, she has a splen- 
did physique, but it seems to me that London tries her. 
The piece they have chosen for her is a heavy one, and 
then of course society is down upon her, and in a few 
weeks she'll be the rage/ 

' I have n't seen her at all,' said Kendal, beginning 
perhaps to be a little bored with the subject of Miss 
.Bretherton, and turning, eye-glass in hand, towards 
1 the sculpture. ' Come and take me some evening/ 

'By all means. But you must come and meet the 
girl herself at my sister's next Friday. She will be 
there at afternoon tea. I told Agnes I should ask 
anybody I liked. I warned her you know her little 
weaknesses ! that she had better be first in the field : 
[ 236 ] 


a month hence, it will be impossible to get hold of Miss 
Bretherton at all.' 

'Then I'll certainly come, and do my worshipping 
before the crowd collects/ said Kendal, adding, as he 
half-curiously shifted his eye-glass so as to take in 
Wallace's bronzed, alert countenance, 'How did you 
happen to know her?' 

'Rutherford introduced me. He's an old friend of 

'Well,' said Kendal, moving off, 'Friday, then. I 
shall be very glad to see Mrs. Stuart; it's ages since 
I saw her last/ 

The American nodded cordially to him, and walked 
away. He was one of those pleasant, ubiquitous 
people who know every one and find time for every- 
thing a well-known journalist, something of an 
artist, and still more of a man of the world, who went 
through his London season with some outward grum- 
bling, but with a real inward zest such as few popular 
diners-out are blessed with. That he should have at- 
tached himself to the latest star was natural enough. 
He was the most discreet and profitable of cicerones, 
with a real talent for making himself useful to nice 
people. His friendship for Miss Bretherton gave her 
a certain stamp in Kendal's eyes, for Wallace had a 
fastidious taste in personalities and seldom made a 

Kendal himself walked home, busy with very differ- 
ent thoughts, and was soon established at his writing- 
table in his high chambers overlooking an inner court 
of the Temple. It was a bright afternoon ; the spring 
sunshine on the red roofs opposite was clear and gay; 
[ 237 ] 


the old chimney-stacks, towering into the pale blue 
sky, threw sharp shadows on the rich red and orange 
surface of the tiles. Below, the court was half in 
shadow, and utterly quiet and deserted. To the left 
there was a gleam of green, atoning for its spring 
thinness and scantiness by a vivid energy of colour; 
while straight across the court, beyond the rich patch- 
work of the roofs and the picturesque outlines of the 
chimneys, a delicate piece of white stone-work rose 
into air the spire of one of Wren's churches, as 
dainty, as perfect, and as fastidiously balanced as the 
hand of man could leave it. 

Inside, the room was such as fitted a studious 
bachelor of means. The book-cases on the walls held 
old college classics and law-books underneath, and 
above a miscellaneous literary library, of which the 
main bulk was French, while the side-wings, so to 
speak, had that tempting miscellaneous air here a 
patch of German, there an island of Italian; on this 
side rows of English poets, on the other an abundance 
of novels of all languages which delights the fond 
heart of the book-lover. The pictures were mostly 
autotypes and photographs from subjects of Italian 
art, except in one corner, where a fine little collection 
of French historical engravings completely covered the 
wall, and drew a visitor's attention by the brilliancy 
of their black and white. On the writing-table were 
piles of paper-covered French books, representing 
for the most part the palmy days of the Romantics, 
though every here and there were intervening strata of 
naturalism, balanced in their turn by recurrent volumes 
of Sainte-Beuve. The whole had a studious air. The 
[ 238 ] 


books were evidently collected with a purpose, and the 
piles of orderly MSS. lying on the writing-table seemed 
to sum up and explain their surroundings. 

The only personal ornament of the room was a 
group of photographs on the mantelpiece. Two were 
faded and brown, and represented Kendal's parents, 
both of whom had been dead some years. The other 
was a large cabinet photograph of a woman no longer 
very young a striking-looking woman, with a fine 
worn face and a general air of distinction and charac- 
ter. There was a strong resemblance between her 
features and those of Eustace Kendal, and she was 
indeed his elder and only sister, the wife of a French 
senator, and her brother's chief friend and counsellor. 
Madame de Chateauvieux was a very noticeable 
person, and her influence over Eustace had been strong 
ever since their childish days. She was a woman who 
would have justified a repetition in the present day 
of Sismondi's enthusiastic estimate of the women of 
the First Empire. She had that melange du meilleur 
ton, ' with the purest elegance of manner, and a store of 
varied information, with vivacity of impression and 
delicacy of feeling, which/ as he declared to Madame 
d' Albany, 'belongs only to your sex, and is found in 
its perfection only in the best society of France/ 

In the days when she and Eustace had been the 
only children of a distinguished and wealthy father, 
a politician of some fame, and son-in-law to the Tory 
premier of his young days, she had always led and 
influenced her brother. He followed her admiringly 
through her London seasons, watching the impression 
she made, triumphing in her triumphs, and at home 
[ 239 ] 


discussing every new book with her and sharing, at 
least in his college vacations, the secretary's work for 
their father, which she did excellently, and with a 
quick, keen, political sense which Eustace had never 
seen in any other woman. She was handsome in her 
own refined and delicate way, especially at night, 
when the sparkle of her white neck and arms and the 
added brightness of her dress gave her the accent and 
colour she was somewhat lacking in at other times. 
Naturally, she was in no want of suitors, for she was 
rich and her father was influential, but she said ' No ' 
many times, and was nearly thirty before M. de 
Chateauvieux, the first secretary of the French Em- 
bassy, persuaded her to marry him. Since then she 
had filled an effective place in Parisian society. Her 
husband had abandoned diplomacy for politics, in 
which his general tendencies were Orleanist, while in 
literature he was well known as a constant contributor 
to the Revue des Deux Mondes. He and his wife main- 
tained an interesting, and in its way influential, salon, 
which provided a meeting-ground for the best English 
and French society, and showed off at once the delicate 
quality of Madame de Chateauvieux's intelligence and 
the force and kindliness of her womanly tact. 

Shortly after her marriage the father and mother 
died, within eighteen months of each other, and 
Eustace found his lot in life radically changed. He 
had been his father's secretary after leaving college, 
which prevented his making any serious efforts to 
succeed at the bar, and in consequence his interest, 
both of head and heart, had been more concentrated 
than is often the case with a young man within the 
[ 240 ] 


walls of his home. He had admired his father sincerely, 
and the worth of his mother's loquacious and some- 
times meddlesome tenderness he never realised fully 
till he had lost it. When he was finally alone, it be- 
came necessary for him to choose a line in life. His 
sister and he divided his father's money between 
them, and Eustace found himself with a fortune such 
as in the eyes of most of his friends constituted a 
leading of Providence towards two things marriage 
and a seat in Parliament. However, fortunately, his 
sister, the only person to whom he applied for advice, 
was in no hurry to press a decision in either case upon 
him. She saw that without the stimulus of the father's 
presence, Eustace's interest in politics was less real 
than his interest in letters, nor did the times seem to 
her propitious to that philosophic conservatism which 
might be said to represent the family type of mind. 
So she stirred him up to return to some of the projects 
of his college days when he and she were first bitten 
with a passion for that great, that fascinating French 
literature which absorbs, generation after generation, 
the interests of two thirds of those who are sensitive 
to the things of letters. She suggested a book to him 
which took his fancy, and in planning it something of 
the old zest of life returned to him. Moreover, it was a 
book which required him to spend a part of every year 
in Paris, and the neighbourhood of his sister was now 
more delightful to him than ever. 

So, after a time, he settled down contentedly in his 
London chambers with his books about him, and pre- 
sently found that glow of labour stealing over him 
which is at once the stimulus and the reward of every 
[ 241 ] 


true son of knowledge. His book reconciled him to 
life again, and soon he was as often seen in the com- 
mon haunts of London society as before. He dined 
out, he went to the theatre, he frequented his club 
like other men, and every year he spent three of the 
winter months in Paris, living in the best French 
world, talking as he never talked in London, and 
cultivating, whether in the theatre or in the salons 
of his sister's friends or in the studios of some of the 
more eminent of French artists, a fastidious critical 
temper, which was rapidly becoming more and more 
exacting, more and more master of the man. 

Now, on this May afternoon, as he settled himself 
down to his work, it would have given any of those 
who liked Eustace Kendal and they were many - 
pleasure to see how the look of fatigue with which he 
had returned from his round of the Academy faded 
away, how he shook back the tumbling grey locks 
from his eyes with the zest and the eagerness of one 
setting forth to battle, and how, as time passed on 
and the shadows deepened on the white spire opposite, 
the contentment of successful labour showed itself in 
the slow unconscious caress which fell upon the back 
of the sleeping cat curled up in the chair beside him, 
or in the absent but still kindly smile with which he 
greeted the punctual entrance of the servant, who at 
five o'clock came to put tea and the evening paper 
beside him and to make up the fire, which crackled 
on with cheery companionable sounds through the 
lamp-lit evening and far into the night. 


Iwo or three days afterwards, Kendal, in looking 
over his engagement-book, in which the entries were 
methodically kept, noticed 'Afternoon tea, Mrs. 
Stuart's, Friday /and at once sent off a note to Edward 
Wallace, suggesting that they should go to the theatre 
together on Thursday evening to see Miss Bretherton, 
'for, as you will see/ he wrote, 'it will be impossible 
for me to meet her with a good conscience unless I 
have done my duty beforehand by going to see her 
perform/ To this the American replied by a counter 
proposal. 'Miss Bretherton/ he wrote, 'offers my 
sister and myself a box for Friday night ; it will hold 
four or five ; you must certainly be of the party, and 
I shall ask Forbes/ 

Kendal felt himself a little entrapped, and would 
have preferred to see the actress under conditions 
more favourable to an independent judgement, but he 
was conscious that a refusal would be ungracious, so 
he accepted, and prepared himself to meet the beauty 
in as sympathetic a frame of mind as possible. 

On Friday afternoon, after a long and fruitful day's 
work, he found himself driving westward towards the 
old-fashioned Kensington house of which Mrs. Stuart, 
with her bright, bird-like, American ways, had suc- 
ceeded in making a considerable social centre. His 
mind was still full of his work, phrases of Joubert or of 
Stendhal seemed to be still floating about him, and 
[ 243 ] 


certain subtleties of artistic and critical speculation 
were still vaguely arguing themselves out within him 
as he sped westward, drawing in the pleasant influences 
of the spring sunshine, and delighting his eyes in the 
May green which was triumphing more and more 
every day over the greyness of London, and would 
soon have reached that lovely short-lived pause of 
victory which is all that summer can hope to win amid 
the dust and crowd of a great city. 

Kendal was in that condition which is proper to 
men possessed of the true literary temperament, when 
the first fervour of youth for mere living is gone, when 
the first crude difficulties of accumulation are over, 
and when the mind, admitted to regions of an ampler 
aether and diviner air than any she has inhabited be- 
fore, feels the full charm and spell of man's vast 
birthright of knowledge, and is seized with subtler 
curiosities and further-reaching desires than anything 
she has yet been conscious of. The world of fact and 
of idea is open, and the explorer's instruments are as 
perfect as they can be made. The intoxication of 
entrance is full upon him, and the lassitude which is 
the inevitable Nemesis of an unending task, and the 
chill which sooner or later descends upon every human 
hope, are as yet mere names and shadows, counting 
for nothing in the tranquil vista of his life, which 
seems to lie spread out before him. It is a rare state, 
for not many men are capable of the apprenticeship 
which leads to it, and a breath of hostile circumstance 
may put an end to it; but in its own manner and 
degree, and while it lasts, it is one of the golden states 
of consciousness, and a man enjoying it feels this 
[ 244 ] 


mysterious gift of existence to have been a kindly 
boon from some beneficent power. 

Arrived at Mrs. Stuart's, Kendal found a large 
gathering already filling the pleasant low rooms look- 
ing out upon trees at either end, upon which Mrs. 
Stuart had impressed throughout the stamp of her 
own keen little personality. She was competent in all 
things competent in her criticism of a book, and 
more than competent in all that pertained to the 
niceties of house management. Her dinner-parties, of 
which each was built up from foundation to climax 
with the most delicate skill and unity of plan; her 
pretty dresses, in which she trailed about her soft- 
coloured rooms; her energy, her kindliness, and even 
the evident but quite innocent pursuit of social per- 
fection in which she delighted all made her popu- 
lar; and it was not difficult for her to gather together 
whom she would when she wished to launch a social 
novelty. On the present occasion she was very much 
in her element. All around her were people more or 
less distinguished in the London world; here was an 
editor, there an artist ; a junior member of the Govern- 
ment chatted over his tea with a foreign Minister, and 
a flow of the usual London chatter of a superior kind 
was rippling through the room when Kendal entered. 

Mrs. Stuart put him in the way of a chair and of 
abundant chances of conversation, and then left him 
with a shrug of her shoulders and a whisper, 'The 
beauty is shockingly late! Tell me what I shall do 
if all these people are disappointed.' In reality Mrs. 
Stuart was beginning to be restless. Kendal had him- 
self arrived very late, and, as the talk flowed faster, 
[ 245 ] 


and the room filled fuller of guests eager for the new 
sensation which had been promised them, the spirits 
of the little hostess began to sink. The Minister had 
surreptitiously looked at his watch, and a tiresome lady 
friend had said good-bye in a voice which might have 
been lower, and with a lament which might have been 
spared. Mrs. Stuart set great store upon the success 
of her social undertakings, and to gather a crowd of 
people to meet the rising star of the season, and then 
to have to send them home with only tea and talk to 
remember, was one of those failures which no one with 
any self-respect should allow themselves to risk. 

However, fortune was once more kind to one of her 
chief favourites. Mrs. Stuart was just listening with 
a tired face to the well-meant, but depressing condol- 
ences of the barrister standing by her, who was de- 
scribing to her the 'absurd failure ' of a party to meet 
the leading actress of the Comedie Fran^.aise, to which 
he had been invited in the previous season, when the 
sound of wheels was heard outside. Mrs. Stuart made 
a quick step forward, leaving her Job's comforter 
planted in the middle of his story; the hum of talk 
dropped in an instant, and the crowd about the door 
fell hastily back as it was thrown open and Miss 
Bretherton entered. 

What a glow and radiance of beauty entered the 
room with her ! She came in "rapidly, her graceful head 
thrown eagerly back, her face kindling and her hands 
outstretched as she caught sight of Mrs. Stuart. There 
was a vigour and splendour of life about her that made 
all her movements large and emphatic, and yet, at the 
same time, nothing could exceed the delicate finish of 
[ 246 ] 


the physical structure itself. What was indeed char- 
acteristic in her was this combination of extraor- 
dinary perfectness of detail, with a flash, a warmth, 
a force of impression, such as often raises the lower 
kinds of beauty into excellence and picturesqueness, 
but is seldom found in connexion with those types 
where the beauty is, as it were, sufficient in and by 
itself, and does not need anything but its own inher- 
ent harmonies of line and hue to impress itself on 
the beholders. 

There were some, indeed, who maintained that the 
smallness and delicacy of her features was out of keep- 
ing with her stature and her ample gliding motions. 
But here, again, the impression of delicacy was trans- 
formed halfway into one of brilliancy by the large 
hazel eyes and the vivid whiteness of the skin. Kendal 
watched her from his corner, where his conversation 
with two musical young ladies had been suddenly 
suspended by the arrival of the actress, and thought 
that his impression of the week before had been, if any- 
thing, below the truth. 

'She comes into the room well, too/ he said to him- 
self critically; 'she is not a mere milkmaid; she has 
some manner, some individuality. Ah, now Fernandez ' 
- naming the Minister 'has got hold of her. Then, 
I suppose, Rushbrook (the member of the Govern- 
ment) will come next, and we commoner mortals in 
our turn. What absurdities these things are!' 

His reflexions, however, were stopped by the ex- 
clamations of the girls beside him, who were already 
warm admirers of Miss Bretherton, and wild with 
enthusiasm at finding themselves in the same room 
[ 247 ] 


with her. They discovered that he was going to see her 
in the evening; they envied him, they described the 
play to him, they dwelt in superlatives on the crowded 
state of the theatre and on the plaudits which greeted 
Miss Bretherton's first appearance in the ballroom 
scene in the first act, and they allowed themselves - 
being aesthetic damsels robed in sober greenish-greys 
a gentle lament over the somewhat violent colour- 
ing of one of the actress's costumes, while all the time 
keeping their eyes furtively fixed on the gleaming, 
animated profile and graceful shoulders over which, in 
the entrance of the second drawing-room, the Minis- 
ter's grey head was bending. 

Mrs. Stuart did her duty bravely. Miss Bretherton 
had announced to her, with a thousand regrets, that 
she had only half an hour to give. 'We poor profes- 
sionals, you know, must dine at four. That made me 
late, and now I find I am such a long way from home 
that six is the latest moment I can stay/ So that Mrs. 
Stuart was put to it to get through all the introduc- 
tions she had promised. But she performed her task 
without flinching, killing remorselessly each nascent 
conversation in the bud, giving artist, author, or 
member of Parliament his proper little sentence of 
introduction, and at last beckoning to Eustace Kendal, 
who left his corner feeling society to be a foolish busi- 
ness, and wishing the ordeal were over. 

Miss Bretherton smiled at him as she had smiled at 
all the others, and he sat down for his three minutes on 
the chair beside her. 

'I hear you are satisfied with your English audi- 
ences, Miss Bretherton/ he began at once, having 
[ 248 ] 


prepared himself so far. ' To-night I am to have the 
pleasure for the first time of making one of your ad- 

' I hope it will please you/ she said, with a shyness 
that was still bright and friendly. 'You will be sure 
to come and see me afterwards? I have been arranging 
it with Mrs. Stuart. I am never fit to talk to after- 
wards, I get so tired. But it does one good to see one's 
friends ; it makes one forget the theatre a little before 
going home/ 

'Do you find London very exciting?' 

'Yes, very. People have been so extraordinarily 
kind to me, and it is all such a new experience after 
that little place Kingston. I should have my head 
turned, I think/ she added, with a happy little laugh, 
'but that when one cares about one's art one is not 
likely to think too much of one's self. I am always 
despairing over what there is still to do, and what one 
may have done seems to make no matter/ 

She spoke with a pretty humility, evidently meaning 
what she said, and yet there was such a delightful 
young triumph in her manner, such an invulnerable 
consciousness of artistic success, that Kendal felt a 
secret stir of amusement as he recalled the criticisms 
which among his own set he had most commonly heard 
applied to her. 

'Yes, indeed,' he answered, pleasantly. 'I suppose 
every artist feels the same. We all do if we are good 
for anything we who scribble as well as you who 

'Oh yes/ she said, with kindly, questioning eyes, 
'you write a great deal? I know; Mr. Wallace told 
[ 249 ] 


me. He says you are so learned, and that your book 
will be splendid. It must be grand to write books. I 
should like it, I think, better than acting. You need 
only depend on yourself; but in acting you're always 
depending on some one else, and you get in such a rage 
when all your own grand ideas are spoilt because the 
leading gentleman won't do anything different from 
what he has been used to, or the next lady wants to 
show off, or the stage-manager has a grudge against 
you ! Something always happens.' 

'Apparently the only thing that always happens to 
you is success/ said Kendal, rather hating himself for 
the cheapness of the compliment. ' I hear wonderful 
reports of the difficulty of getting a seat at the Calliope; 
and his friends tell me that Mr. Robinson looks ten 
years younger. Poor man! it is time that fortune 
smiled on him/ 

'Yes, indeed; he had a bad time last year. That 
Miss Harwood, the American actress, that they 
thought would be such a success, did n't come off at 
all. She did n't hit the public. It does n't seem to me 
that the English public is hard to please. At that 
wretched little theatre in Kingston I was n't nearly so 
much at my ease as I am here. Here one can always 
do one's best and be sure that the audience will appre- 
ciate it. I have all sorts of projects in my head. Next 
year I shall have a theatre of my own, I think, and 
then ' 

'And then we shall see you in all the great 

The beauty had just begun her answer when Kendal 
became conscious of Mrs. Stuart standing beside him, 
[ 250 ] 


with another aspirant at her elbow, and nothing re- 
mained for him but to retire with a hasty smile and 
handshake, Miss Bretherton brightly reminding him 
that they should meet again. 

A few minutes afterwards there was once more a 
general flutter in the room. Miss Bretherton was 
going. She came forward in her long flowing black 
garments, holding Mrs. Stuart by the hand, the crowd 
dividing as she passed. On her way to the door stood 
a child, Mrs. Stuart's youngest, looking at her with 
large wondering brown eyes, and finger on lip. The 
actress suddenly stooped to her, lifted her up with the 
ease of physical strength into the midst of her soft furs 
and velvets, and kissed her with a gracious queenliness. 
The child threw its little white arms around her, smiled 
upon her, and smoothed her hair, as though to assure 
itself that the fairy princess was real. Then it struggled 
down, and in another minute the bright vision was 
gone, and the crowded room seemed to have grown 
suddenly dull and empty. 

'That was prettily done/ said Edward Wallace to 
Kendal as they stood together looking on. ' In another 
woman those things would be done for effect, but I 
don't think she does them for effect. It is as though 
she felt herself in such a warm and congenial atmo- 
sphere, she is so sure of herself and her surroundings, 
that she is able to give herself full play, to follow 
every impulse as it rises. There is a wonderful absence 
of mauvaise honte about her, and yet I believe that, 
little as she knows of her own deficiencies, she is really 
modest ' 

'Very possibly/ said Kendal; 'it is a curious study, 
[ 251 ] 


a character taken so much au naturel, and suddenly 
transported into the midst of such a London triumph 
as this. I have certainly been very much attracted, 
and feel inclined to quarrel with you for having run 
her down. I believe I shall admire her more than you 
do to-night/ 

' I only hope you may/ said the American, cordially ; 
' I am afraid, however, that from any standard that is 
worth using there is not much to be said for her as an 
actress. But as a human being she is very nearly 

The afternoon guests departed, and just as the last 
had gone, Mr. Forbes was announced. He came in in 
a bad temper, having been delayed by business, and 
presently sat down to dinner with Mrs. Stuart and 
Wallace and Kendal in a very grumbling frame of 
mind. Mr. Stuart, a young and able lawyer, in the first 
agonies of real success at the bar, had sent word that 
he could not reach home till late. 

'I don't know, I'm sure, what's the good of going 
to see that girl with you two carping fellows,' he 
began, combatively, over his soup. 'She won't suit 
you, and you'll only spoil Mrs. Stuart's pleasure and 

'My dear Forbes/ said Wallace in his placid undis- 
turbed way, ' you will see I shall behave like an angel. 
I shall allow myself no unpleasant remarks, and I shall 
make as much noise as anybody in the theatre/ 

' That's all very well ; but if you don't say it, Kendal 
will look it; and I don't know which is the most 

'Mrs. Stuart, you shall be the judge of our be- 
[ 252 ] 


haviour,' said Kendal, smiling he and Forbes were 
excellent friends. ' Forbes is not in a judicial frame of 
mind, but we will trust you to be fair. I suppose, 
Forbes, we may be allowed a grumble or two at Hawes 
if you shut our mouths on the subject of Miss Brether- 

'Hawes does his best/ said Forbes, with a touch 
of obstinacy. ' He looks well, he strides well, he is a 
fine figure of a man with a big bullying voice ; I don't 
know what more you want in a German prince. It is 
this everlasting hypercriticism which spoils all one's 
pleasure and frightens all the character out of the 

At which Mrs. Stuart laughed, and, woman-like, 
observed that she supposed it was only people who, 
like Forbes, had succeeded in disarming the critics, 
who could afford to scoff at them, a remark which 
drew a funny little bow, half-petulant, half-pleased, 
out of the artist, in whom one of the strongest notes 
of character was his susceptibility to the attentions of 

'You've seen her already, I believe,' said Wallace 
to Forbes. ' I think Miss Bretherton told me you were 
at the Calliope on Monday.' 

'Yes, I was. Well, as I tell you, I don't care to be 
critical. I don't want to whittle away the few pleas- 
ures that this dull life can provide me with by this 
perpetual discontent with what 's set before one. Why 
can't you eat and be thankful? To look at that girl is 
a liberal education ; she has a fine voice too, and her 
beauty, her freshness,the energy of life in her, give me 
every sort of artistic pleasure. What a curmudgeon 
[ 253 ] 


I should be what a grudging, ungrateful fellow, if, 
after all she has done to delight me, I should abuse 
her because she can't speak out her tiresome speeches 
which are of no account, and don't matter, to my 
impression at all as well as one of your thin, French, 
snake-like creatures who have nothing but their art, 
as you call it ; nothing but what they have been care- 
fully taught, nothing but what they have laboriously 
learnt with time and trouble, to depend upon!' 

Having delivered himself of this tirade, the artist 
threw himself back in his chair, tossed back his grey 
hair from his glowing black eyes, and looked defiance 
at Kendal, who was sitting opposite. 

'But, after all,' said Kendal, roused, 'these tiresome 
speeches are her metier ; it's her business to speak 
them, and to speak them well. You are praising her 
for qualities which are not properly dramatic at all. 
In your studio they would be the only thing that a 
man need consider ; on the stage they naturally come 

'Ah, well,' said Forbes, falling to upon his dinner 
again at a gentle signal from Mrs. Stuart that the 
carriage would soon be round, ' I knew very well how 
you and Wallace would take her. You and I will have 
to defend each other, Mrs. Stuart, against those two 
shower-baths, and when we go to see her afterwards I 
shall be invaluable, for I shall be able to save Kendal 
and Wallace the humbug of compliments.' 

Whereupon the others protested that they would on 
no account be deprived of their share of the compli- 
ments, and Wallace especially laid it down that a man 
would be a poor creature who could not find smooth 
[ 254 ] 


things to say upon any conceivable occasion to Isabel 
Bretherton. Besides, he saw her every day, and was in 
excellent practice. Forbes looked a little scornful, but 
at this point Mrs. Stuart succeeded in diverting his 
attention to his latest picture, and the dinner flowed 
on pleasantly till the coffee was handed and the car- 
riage announced. 


ON their arrival at the theatre armed with Miss 
Bretherton's order, Mrs. Stuart's party found them- 
selves shown into a large roomy box close to the stage 
too close, indeed, for purposes of seeing well. The 
house was already crowded, and Kendal noticed, as 
he scanned the stalls and boxes through his opera- 
glass, that it contained a considerable sprinkling of 
notabilities of various kinds. It was a large new 
theatre, which hitherto had enjoyed but a very mod- 
erate share of popular favour, so that the brilliant and 
eager crowd with which it was now filled was in itself 
a sufficient testimony to the success of the actress who 
had wrought so great a transformation. 

'What an experience this is for a girl of twenty-one/ 
whispered Kendal to Mrs. Stuart, who was comfort- 
ably settled in the farther corner of the box, her small 
dainty figure set off by the crimson curtains behind it. 
'One would think that an actor's life must stir the 
very depths of a man or woman's individuality, that it 
must call every power into action, and strike sparks 
out of the dullest/ 

' Yes ; but how seldom it is so !' 

'Well, in England, at any rate, the fact is, their 
training is so imperfect they dare n't let themselves go. 
It's only when a man possesses the lower secrets of his 
art perfectly that he can aim at the higher. But the 
band is nearly through the overture. Just tell me 
before the curtain goes up something about the play. 
[ 256 ] 


I have only very vague ideas about it. The scene is 
laid at Berlin?' 

'Yes; in the Altes Schloss at Berlin. The story is 
based upon the legend of the White Lady/ 
' What ? the warning phantom of the Hohenzollerns ? ' 
Mrs. Stuart nodded. 'A Crown Prince of Prussia is 
in love with the beautiful Countess Hilda von Weissen- 
stein. Reasons of State, however, oblige him to throw 
her over and to take steps towards marriage with a 
Princess of Wiirtemberg. They have just been be- 
trothed when the Countess, mad with jealousy, plays 
the part of the White Lady and appears to the Princess, 
to try and terrify her out of the proposed marriage/ 
'And the Countess is Miss Bretherton?' 
'Yes. Of course the malicious people say that her 
get-up as the White Lady is really the raison d'&tre of 
the piece. But hush! there is the signal. Make up 
your mind to be bored by the Princess; she is one of 
the worst sticks I ever saw!' 

The first scene represented the ballroom at the 
Schloss, or rather the royal anteroom, beyond which 
the vista of the ballroom opened. The Prussian and 
Wiirtemberg royalties had not yet arrived, with the 
exception of the Prince Wilhelm, on whose matri- 
monial prospects the play was to turn. He was en- 
gaged in explaining the situation to his friend, Walde- 
mar von Rothenfels, the difficulties in which he was 
placed, his passion for the Countess Hilda, the political 
necessities which forced him to marry a daughter of 
the House of Wiirtemberg, the pressure brought to 
bear upon him by his parents, and his own despair 
at having to break the news to the Countess. 
[ 257 ] 


The story is broken off by the arrival of the royal- 
ties, including the pink-and-white maiden who is to be 
Prince Wilhelm's fate, and the royal quadrille begins. 

The Prince leads his Princess to her place, when it is 
discovered that another lady is required to complete 
the figure, and an aide-de-camp is dispatched into the 
ballroom to fetch one. He returns, ushering in the 
beautiful Hilda von Weissenstein. 

For this moment the audience had been impatiently 
waiting, and when the dazzling figure in its trailing, 
pearl-embroidered robes appeared in the doorway of 
the ballroom, a storm of applause broke forth again 
.and again, and for some minutes delayed the progress 
.of the scene. 

Nothing, indeed, could have been better calculated 
'than this opening to display the peculiar gifts of the 
actress. The quadrille was a stately spectacular dis- 
play, in which splendid dress and stirring music and 
the effects of rhythmic motion had been brought 
freely into play for the delight of the beholders. Be- 
tween the figures there was a little skilfully-managed 
action, mostly in dumb-show. The movements of the 
jealous beauty and of her faithless lover were invested 
throughout with sufficient dramatic meaning to keep 
up the thread of the play. But it was not the dra- 
matic aspect of the scene for which the audience cared, 
it was simply for the display which it made possible of 
Isabel Bretherton's youth and grace and loveliness. 
They hung upon her every movement, and Kendal 
found himself following her with the same eagerness 
of eye as those about him, lest any phase of that em- 
bodied poetry should escape him. 
[ 258 ] 


In this introductory scene, the elements which went 
to make up the spell she exercised over her audience 
were perfectly distinguishable. Kendal's explanation 
of it to himself was that it was based upon an ex- 
ceptional natural endowment of physical perfection, 
informed and spiritualised by certain moral qualities, 
by simplicity, frankness, truth of nature. There was a 
kind of effluence of youth, of purity, of strength, about 
her which it was impossible not to feel, and which 
evidently roused the enthusiastic sympathy of the 
great majority of those who saw her. 

Forbes was sitting in the front of the box with Mrs. 
Stuart, his shaggy grey head and keen lined face at- 
tracting considerable attention in their neighbourhood. 
He was in his most expansive mood ; the combative- 
ness of an hour before had disappeared, and the ardent 
susceptible temperament of the man was absorbed in 
admiration, in the mere sensuous artist's delight in a 
stirring and beautiful series of impressions. When the 
white dress disappeared through the doorway of the 
ballroom, he followed it with a sigh of regret, and dur- 
ing the scene which followed between the Prince and 
his intended bride, he hardly looked at the stage. The 
Princess, indeed, was all that Mrs. Stuart had pro- 
nounced her to be ; she was stiff er and clumsier than 
even her Teutonic role could justify, and she marched 
laboriously through her very proper and virtuous 
speeches, evidently driven on by an uneasy conscious- 
ness that the audience was only eager to come to the 
end of them and of her. 

In the little pause which followed the disappearance 
of the newly-betrothed pair into the distant ballroom, 
[ 259 ] 


Mrs. Stuart leant backward over her chair and said to 

'Now then, Mr. Kendal, prepare your criticisms! 
In the scene which is just coming Miss Bretherton 
has a good deal more to do than to look pretty!' 

'Oh, but you forget our compact!' said Kendal. 
'Remember you are to be the judge of our behaviour 
at the end. It is not the part of a judge to tempt those 
on whom he is to deliver judgement to crime/ 

'Don't put too much violence on yourselves!' said 
Mrs. Stuart, laughing. 'You and Edward can have 
the back of the box to talk what heresy you like in, 
so long as you let Mr. Forbes perform his devotions 

At this Forbes half-turned round, and shook his 
great mane, under which gleamed a countenance of 
comedy menace, at the two men behind him. But in 
another instant the tones of Isabel Bretherton's voice 
riveted his attention, and the eyes of all those in the 
box were once more turned towards the stage. 

The scene which followed was one of the most 
meritorious passages in the rather heavy German play 
from which the White Lady had been adapted. It was 
intended to show the romantic and passionate char- 
acter of the Countess, and to suggest that vein of 
extravagance and daring in her which was the explan- 
ation of the subsequent acts. In the original the dia- 
logue had a certain German force and intensity, which 
lost nothing of its occasional heaviness in the mouth 
of Hawes, the large-boned swaggering personage who 
played the Prince. An actress with sufficient force of 
feeling, and an artistic sense subtle enough to suggest 
[ 260 ] 


to her the necessary modulations, could have made a 
great mark in it. But the first words, almost, revealed 
Isabel Bretherton's limitations, and before two min- 
utes were over Kendal was conscious of a complete 
collapse of that sympathetic relation between him and 
the actress which the first scene had produced. In 
another sentence or two the spell had been irrevoc- 
ably broken, and he seemed to himself to have passed 
from a state of sensitiveness to all that was exquisite 
and rare in her to a state of mere irritable conscious- 
ness of her defects. It was evident to him that in a 
scene of great capabilities she never once rose beyond 
the tricks of an elementary elocution, that her violence 
had a touch of commonness in it which was almost 
vulgarity, and that even her attitudes had lost half 
their charm. For, in the effort the conscious and 
laboured effort of acting, her movements, which 
had exercised such an enchantment over him in the 
first scene, had become mere strides and rushes, never 
indeed without grace, but often without dignity, and 
at all times lacking in that consistency, that unity of 
plan which is the soul of art. 

The sense of chill and disillusion was extremely 
disagreeable to him, and, by the time the scene was 
halfway through, he had almost ceased to watch her. 
Edward Wallace, who had seen her some two or three 
times in the part, was perfectly conscious of the 
change, and had been looking out for it. 

' Not much to be said for her, I am afraid, when she 

comes to business/ he said to Kendal in a whisper, as 

the two leant against the door of the box. 'Where did 

she get those tiresome tricks she has, that see-saw 

[ 261 ] 


intonation she puts on when she wants to be pathetic, 
and that absurd restlessness which spoils everything? 
It's a terrible pity. Sometimes I think I catch a gleam 
of some original power at the bottom, but there is such 
a lack of intelligence in the artist's sense. It is a 
striking instance of how much and how little can be 
done without education/ 

'It is curiously bad, certainly/ said Kendal, while 
the actress's denunciations of her lover were still 
ringing through the theatre. ' But look at the house ! 
What folly it is ever to expect a great dramatic art in 
England. We have no sense for the rudiments of the 
thing. The French would no more tolerate such acting 
as this because of the beauty of the actress than they 
would judge a picture by its frame. However, if men 
like Forbes leave their judgement behind them, it's no 
wonder if commoner mortals follow suit/ 

'There!' said Wallace, with a sigh of relief as the 
curtain fell on the first act, 'that's done with. There 
are two or three things in the second act that are 
beautiful. In her first appearance as the White Lady 
she is as wonderful as ever, but the third act is a 
nuisance - 

'No whispering there/ said Forbes, looking round 
upon them. 'Oh, I know what you're after, Edward, 
perfectly. I hear it all with one ear/ 

' That/ said Wallace, moving up to him/ is physically 
impossible. Don't be so pugnacious. We leave you the 
front of the box, and when we appear in your territory 
our mouths are closed. But in our own domain we 
claim the rights of free men/ 

'Poor girl!' said Forbes, with a sigh. 'How she 
[ 262 ] 


manages to tame London as she does is a marvel to 
me ! If she were a shade less perfect and wonderful 
than she is, she would have been torn to pieces by you 
critics long ago. You have done your best, as it is, only 
the public won't listen to you. Oh, don't suppose I 
don't see all that you see. The critical poison 's in my 
veins just as it is in yours, but I hold it in check it 
shan't master me. I will have my pleasure in spite of 
it, and when I come across anything in life that makes 
me feel, I will protect my feeling from it with all my 

'We are dumb/ said Kendal, with a smile; 'other- 
wise I would pedantically ask you to consider what are 
the feelings to which the dramatic art properly and 
legitimately appeals.' 

' Oh, hang your dramatic art/ said Forbes, firing up ; 
'can't you take things simply and straightforwardly? 
She is there she is doing her best for you there 
is n't a movement or a look which is n't as glorious as 
that of a Diana come to earth, and you won't let it 
charm you and conquer you, because she is n't into the 
bargain as confoundedly clever as you are yourselves ! 
Well, it's your loss, not hers.' 

'My dear Mr. Forbes/ said Mrs. Stuart, with her 
little judicial, peacemaking air, 'we shall all go away 
contented. You will have had your sensation, they will 
have had their sense of superiority, and, as for me, I 
shall get the best of it all round. For, while you are 
here, I see Miss Bretherton with your eyes, and yet, as 
Edward will get hold of me on the way home, I shan't 
go to bed without having experienced all the joys of 
criticism ! Oh ! but now hush, and listen to this music. 
[ 263 ] 


It is one of the best things in the evening, and we shall 
have the White Lady directly/ 

As she spoke, the orchestra, which was a good one, 
and perhaps the most satisfactory feature in the 
performance, broke into some weird Mendelssohnian 
music, and when the note of plaintiveness and mystery 
had been well established, the curtain rose upon the 
great armoury at the castle, a dim indistinguishable 
light shining upon its fretted roof and masses of faintly 
gleaming steel. The scene which followed, in which the 
Countess Hilda, disguised as the traditional phantom 
of the Hohenzollerns, whose appearance bodes misfor- 
tune and death to those who behold it, throws her- 
self across the path of her rival in the hope of driving 
her and those interested in her by sheer force of terror 
from the castle and from Berlin, had been poetically 
conceived, and it furnished Miss Bretherton with an 
admirable opportunity. As the White Lady, glid- 
ing between rows of armed and spectral figures on 
either hand, and startling the Princess and her com- 
panion by her sudden apparition in a gleam of moon- 
light across the floor, she was once more the repre- 
sentative of all that is most poetical and romantic in 
physical beauty. Nay, more than this; as she flung 
her white arms above her head, or pointed to the 
shrinking and fainting figure of her rival while she 
uttered her wailing traditional prophecy of woe, her 
whole personality seemed to be invested with a dra- 
matic force of which there had been no trace in the 
long and violent scene with the Prince. It was as 
though she was in some sort capable of expressing 
herself in action and movement, while in all the arts 
[ 264 ] 


of speech she was a mere crude novice. At any rate, 
there could be no doubt that in this one scene she 
realised the utmost limits of the author's ideal, and 
when she faded into the darkness beyond the moon- 
light in which she had first appeared, the house, 
which had been breathlessly silent during the pro- 
gress of the apparition, burst into a roar of applause, 
in which Wallace and Kendal heartily joined. 

'Exquisite!' said Kendal in Mrs. Stuart's ear, as he 
stood behind her chair. 'She was romance itself! 
Her acting should always be a kind of glorified and 
poetical pantomime ; she would be inimitable so/ 

Mrs. Stuart looked up and smiled agreement. ' Yes, 
that scene lives with one. If everything else in the 
play is poor, she is worth seeing for that alone. Re- 
member it! 1 

The little warning was in season, for the poor White 
Lady had but too many after opportunities of blurring 
the impression she had made. In the great situation at 
the end of the second act, in which the Countess has to 
give, in the presence of the Court, a summary of the 
supposed story of the White Lady, her passion at once 
of love and hatred charges it with a force and meaning 
which, for the first time, rouses the suspicions of the 
Prince as to the reality of the supposed apparition. In 
the two or three fine and dramatic speeches which the 
situation involved, the actress showed the same ab- 
sence of knowledge and resources as before, the same 
powerlessness to create a personality, the same lack 
of all those quicker and more delicate perceptions 
which we include under the general term 'refinement,' 
and which, in the practice of any art, are the outcome 
[ 265 ] 


of long and complex processes of education. There, 
indeed, was the bald, plain fact the whole explan- 
ation of her failure as an artist lay in her lack both of 
the lower and of the higher kinds of education. It 
was evident that her technical training had been of 
the roughest. In all technical respects, indeed, her 
acting had a self-taught, provincial air, which showed 
you that she had natural cleverness, but that her mod- 
els had been of the poorest type. And in all other 
respects when it came to interpretation or creation 
- she was spoilt by her entire want of that inherit- 
ance from the past which is the foundation of all 
good work in the present. For an actress must have 
one of the two kinds of knowledge: she must have 
either the knowledge which comes from a fine train- 
ing in itself the outcome of a long tradition or 
she must have the knowledge which comes from mere 
living, from the accumulations of personal thought 
and experience. Miss Bretherton had neither. She 
had extraordinary beauty and charm, and certainly, 
as Kendal admitted, some original quickness. He 
was not inclined to go so far as to call it 'power.' 
But this quickness, which would have been promising 
in a debutante less richly endowed on the physical side, 
seemed to him to have no future in her. 'It will be 
checked/ he said to himself, 'by her beauty and all 
that flows from it. She must come to depend more 
and more on the physical charm, and on that only. 
The whole pressure of her success is and will be that 

Miss Bretherton's inadequacy, indeed, became more 
and more visible as the play was gradually and finely 
[ 266 ] 


worked up to its climax in the last act. In the final 
scene of all, the Prince, who by a series of accidents 
has discovered the Countess Hilda's plans, lies in wait 
for her in the armoury, where he has reason to know 
she means to try the effect of a third and last appar- 
ition upon the Princess. She appears; he suddenly 
confronts her; and, dragging her forward, unveils 
before himself and the Princess the death-like feat- 
ures of his old love. Recovering from the shock of 
detection, the Countess pours out upon them both a 
fury of jealous passion, sinking by degrees into a pathe- 
tic, trance-like invocation of the past, under the spell 
of which the Prince's anger melts away and the little 
Princess's terror and excitement change into eager 
pity. Then, when she sees him almost reconquered, 
and her rival weeping beside her, she takes the poison 
phial from her breast, drinks it, and dies in the arms 
of the man for whose sake she has sacrificed beauty, 
character, and life itself. 

A great actress could hardly have wished for a 
better opportunity. The scene was so obviously be- 
yond Miss Bretherton's resources that even the en- 
thusiastic house, Kendal fancied, cooled down during 
the progress of it. There were signs of restlessness, 
there was even a little talking in some of the back 
rows, and at no time during the scene was there any 
of that breathless absorption in what was passing 
on the stage which the dramatic material itself amply 

'I don't think this will last very long/ said Kendal 
in Wallace's ear. ' There is something tragic in a pop- 
ularity like this ; it rests on something unsound, and 
[ 267 ] 


one feels that disaster is not far off. The whole thing 
impresses me most painfully. She has some capacity, 
of course ; if only the conditions had been different if 
she had been born within a hundred miles of the Paris 
Conservatoire, if her youth had been passed in a soci- 
ety of more intellectual weight, but, as it is, this 
very applause is ominous, for the beauty must go 
sooner or later, and there is nothing else/ 

' You remember Desf ore" ts in this same theatre last 
year in Adrienne Lecouvreur?' said Wallace. 'What a 
gulf between the right thing and the wrong ! But come, 
we must do our duty'; and he drew Kendal forward 
towards the front of the box, and they saw the whole 
house on its feet, clapping and shouting, and the cur- 
tain just being drawn back to let the White Lady and 
the Prince appear before it. She was very pale, but 
the storm of applause which greeted her seemed to 
revive her, and she swept her smiling glance round 
the theatre, until at last it rested with a special gleam 
of recognition on the party in the box, especially on 
Forbes, who was outdoing himself in enthusiasm. She 
was called forward again and again, until at last the 
house was content, and the general exit began. 

The instant after her white dress had disappeared 
from the stage, a little page-boy knocked at the door 
of the box with a message that ' Miss Bretherton begs 
that Mrs. Stuart and her friends will come and see 
her/ Out they all trooped, along a narrow passage, 
and up a short staircase, until a rough temporary 
door was thrown open, and they found themselves 
in the wings, the great stage, on which the scenery 
was being hastily shifted, lying to their right. The 
[ 268 ] 


lights were being put out; only a few gas-jets were 
left burning round a pillar, beside which stood Isabel 
Bretherton, her long phantom dress lying in white 
folds about her, her uncle and aunt and her manager 
standing near. Every detail of the picture the 
spot of brilliant light bounded on all sides by dim, 
far-reaching vistas of shadow, the figures hurrying 
across the back of the stage, the moving ghost-like 
workmen all around, and in the midst that white- 
hooded, languid figure revived in Kendal's memory 
whenever in after days his thoughts went wandering 
back to the first moment of real contact between his 
own personality and that of Isabel Bretherton. 


A FEW days after the performance of the White Lady, 
Kendal, in the course of his weekly letter to his sister, 
sent her a fairly-detailed account of the evening, in- 
cluding the interview with her after the play, which 
had left two or three very marked impressions upon 
him. ' I wish/ he wrote, ' I could only convey to you 
a sense of her personal charm such as might balance 
the impression of her artistic defects, which I suppose 
this account of mine cannot but leave on you. When 
I came away that night after our conversation with 
her I had entirely forgotten her failure as an actress, 
and it is only later, since I have thought over the even- 
ing in detail, that I have returned to my first stand- 
point of wonder at the easy toleration of the English 
public. When you are actually with her, talking to 
her, looking at her, Forbes's attitude is the only pos- 
sible and reasonable one. What does art, or cultivation, 
or training matter, I found myself saying, as I 
walked home, in echo of him, so long as Nature will 
only condescend once in a hundred years to produce 
for us a creature so perfect, so finely fashioned to all 
beautiful uses! Let other people go through the toil 
to acquire ; their aim is truth : but here is beauty in 
its quintessence, and what is beauty but three parts 
of truth? Beauty is harmony with the universal order, 
a revelation of laws and perfections of which, in our 
common groping through a dull world, we find in 
[ 270 ] 


general nothing to remind us. And if so, what folly 
to ask of a human creature that it should be more 
than beautiful ! It is a messenger from the gods, and 
we treat it as if it were any common traveller along 
the highway of life, and cross-examine it for its cre- 
dentials instead of raising our altar and sacrificing to 
it with grateful hearts ! 

'That was my latest impression of Friday night. 
But, naturally, by Saturday morning I had returned 
to the rational point of view. The mind's morning 
climate is removed by many degrees from that of the 
evening ; and the critical revolt which the whole spec- 
tacle of the White Lady had originally aroused in me 
revived in all its force. I began, indeed, to feel as if I 
and humanity, with its long laborious tradition, were 
on one side, holding our own against a young and 
arrogant aggressor namely, beauty, in the person 
of Miss Bretherton! How many men and women, I 
thought, have laboured and struggled and died in the 
effort to reach a higher and higher perfection in one 
single art, and are they to be outdone, eclipsed in a 
moment, by something which is a mere freak of na- 
ture, something which, like the lilies of the field, has 
neither toiled nor spun, and yet claims the special in- 
heritance and reward of those who have ! It seemed 
to me as though my feeling in her presence of the night 
before, as if the sudden overthrow of the critical re- 
sistance in me had been a kind of treachery to the 
human cause. Beauty has power enough, I found 
myself reflecting with some fierceness let us with- 
hold from her a sway and a prerogative which are not 
rightfully hers ; let us defend against her that store of 
[ 271 ] 


human sympathy which is the proper reward, not of 
her facile and heaven-born perfections, but of labour 
and intelligence, of all that is complex and tenacious 
in the workings of the human spirit. 

' And then, as my mood cooled still further, I began 
to recall many an evening at the Francais with you, 
and one part after another, one actor after another, 
recurred to me, till, as I realized afresh what dramatic 
intelligence and dramatic training really are, I fell into 
an angry contempt for our lavish English enthusiasms. 
Poor girl ! it is not her fault if she believes herself to 
be a great actress. Brought up under misleading con- 
ditions, and without any but the most elementary 
education, how is she to know what the real thing 
means? She finds herself the rage within a few weeks 
of her appearance in the greatest city of the world. 
Naturally, she pays no heed to her critics, why 
should she? 

'And she is indeed a most perplexing mixture. Do 
what I will I cannot harmonize all my different im- 
pressions of her. Let me begin again. Why is it that 
her acting is so poor? I never saw a more dramatic 
personality ! Everything that she says or does is said 
or done with a warmth, a vivacity that make her 
smallest gesture and her lightest tone impress them- 
selves upon you. I felt this very strongly two or three 
times after the play on Friday night. In her talk with 
Forbes, for instance, whom she has altogether in her 
toils, and whom she plays with as though he were the 
grey-headed Merlin and she an innocent Vivien, weav- 
ing harmless spells about him. And then, from this 
mocking war of words and looks, this gay camaraderie, 


in which there was not a scrap of coquetry or self- 
consciousness, she would pass into a sudden outburst 
of anger as to the impertinence of English rich people 
the impertinence of rich millionaires who have tried 
once or twice to 'order' her for their evening parties 
as they would order their ices, or the impertinence of 
the young 'swell about town' who thinks she has 
nothing to do behind the scenes but receive his visits 
and provide him with entertainment. And, as the 
quick impetuous words came rushing out, you felt that 
here for once was a woman speaking her real mind 
to you, and that with a flashing eye and curving lip, 
an inborn grace and energy which made every word 
memorable. If she would but look like that or speak 
like that on the stage! But there, of course, is the 
rub. The whole difficulty of art consists in losing your 
own personality, so to speak, and finding it again trans- 
formed, and it is a difficulty which Miss Bretherton 
has never even understood. 

'After this impression of spontaneity and natural 
force, I think what struck me most was the physical 
effect London has already exercised upon her in six 
weeks. She looks superbly sound and healthy ; she is 
tall and fully developed, and her colour, for all its 
delicacy, is pure and glowing. But, after all, she was 
born in a languid, tropical climate, and it is the nervous 
strain, the rush, the incessant occupation of London 
which seem to be telling upon her. She gave me 
two or three times a painful impression of fatigue 
on Friday fatigue and something like depression. 
After twenty minutes' talk she threw herself back 
against the iron pillar behind her, her White Lady's 
[ 273 ] 


hood framing a face so pale and drooping that we all 
got up to go, feeling that it was cruelty to keep her up a 
minute longer. Mrs. Stuart asked her about her Sun- 
days, and whether she ever got out of town. ' Oh/ she 
said, with a sigh and a look at her uncle, who was stand- 
ing near, 'I think Sunday is the hardest day of all. 
It is our 'at home' day, and such crowds come just 
to look at me, I suppose, for I cannot talk to a quarter 
of them/ Whereupon Mr. Worrall said in his bland 
commercial way that society had its burdens as well 
as its pleasures, and that his dear niece could hardly 
escape her social duties after the flattering manner 
in which London had welcomed her. Miss Bretherton 
answered, with a sort of languid rebellion, that her 
social duties would soon be the death of her. But 
evidently she is very docile at home, and they do what 
they like with her. It seems to me that the uncle and 
aunt are a good deal shrewder than the London public ; 
it is borne in upon me by various indications that they 
know exactly what their niece's popularity depends on, 
and that it very possibly may not be a long-lived one. 
Accordingly, they have determined on two things: 
first, that she shall make as much money for the family 
as can by any means be made ; and, secondly, that she 
shall find her way into London society, and secure, if 
possible, a great parti before the enthusiasm for her has 
had time to chill. One hears various stories of the 
uncle, all in this sense ; I cannot say how true they are. 
'However, the upshot of the supper-party was that 
next day Wallace, Forbes, and I met at Mrs. Stuart's 
house, and formed a Sunday League for the protection 
of Miss Bretherton from her family; in other words, 
[ 274 ] 


we mean to secure that she has occasional rest and 
country air on Sunday her only free day. Mrs. 
Stuart has already wrung out of Mrs. Worrall, by a lit- 
tle judicious scaring, permission to carry her off for two 
Sundays one this month and one next and Miss 
Bretherton's romantic side, which is curiously strong 
in her, has been touched by the suggestion that the 
second Sunday should be spent at Oxford. 

' Probably for the first Sunday a week hence 
we shall go to Surrey. You remember Hugh Farn- 
ham's property near Leith Hill? I know all the farms 
about there from old shooting days, and there is one 
on the edge of some great commons, which would be 
perfection on a May Sunday. I will write you a full 
account of our day. The only rule laid down by the 
League is that things are to be so managed that Miss 
Bretherton is to have no possible excuse for fatigue 
so long as she is in the hands of the Society. 

'My book goes on fairly well. I have been making 
a long study of De Musset, with the result that the 
poems seem to me far finer than I had remembered, 
and the Confessions d'un Enfant du Siecle a miserable 
performance. How was it it impressed me so much 
when I read it first? His poems have reminded me of 
you at every step. Do you remember how you used to 
read them aloud to our mother and me after dinner, 
while the father had his sleep before going down to the 
House ?' 

Ten days later Kendal spent a long Monday evening 
in writing the following letter to his sister : 

'Our yesterday's expedition was, I think, a great 
success. Mrs. Stuart was happy, because she had for 
[ 275 ] 


once induced Stuart to put away his papers and allow 
himself a holiday ; it was Miss Bretherton's first sight 
of the genuine English country, and she was like a 
child among the gorse and the hawthorns, while Wal- 
lace and I amused our manly selves extremely well in 
befriending the most beautiful woman in the British 
Isles, in drawing her out and watching her strong 
naive impressions of things. Stuart, I think, was not 
quite happy. It is hardly to be expected of a lawyer 
in the crisis of his fortunes that he should enjoy ten 
hours' divorce from his briefs ; but he did his best to 
reach the common level, and his wife, who is devoted 
to him, and might as well not be married at all from 
the point of view of marital companionship, evidently 
thought him perfection. The day more than confirmed 
my liking for Mrs. Stuart ; there are certain little follies 
about her ; she is too apt to regard every distinguished 
dinner-party she and Stuart attend as an event of 
enormous and universal interest, and beyond London 
society her sympathies hardly reach, except in that 
vague charitable form which is rather pity and tolera- 
tion than sympathy. But she is kindly, womanly, soft ; 
she has no small jealousies and none of that petty self- 
consciousness which makes so many women wearisome 
to the great majority of plain men, who have no wish 
to take their social exercises too much au serieux. 

' I was curious to see what sort of a relationship she 
and Miss Bretherton had developed towards each other. 
Mrs. Stuart is nothing if not cultivated; her light 
individuality floats easily on the stream of London 
thought, now with this current, now with that, but 
always in movement, never left behind. She has the 
[ 276 ] 


usual literary and artistic topics at her fingers' end, 
and as she knows everybody, whenever the more 
abstract sides of a subject begin to bore her, she can 
fall back upon an endless store of gossip as lively, 
as brightly-coloured, and, on the whole, as harmless as 
she herself is. Miss Bretherton had till a week or two 
ago but two subjects Jamaica and the stage the 
latter taken in a somewhat narrow sense. Now, she 
has added to her store of knowledge a great number 
of first impressions of London notorieties, which 
naturally throw her mind and Mrs. Stuart's more fre- 
quently into contact with each other. But I see that, 
after all, Mrs. Stuart had no need of any bridges of 
this kind to bring her on to common ground with 
Isabel Bretherton. Her strong womanliness and the 
leaven of warm-hearted youth still stirring in her 
would be quite enough of themselves, and, besides, 
there is her critical delight in the girl's beauty, and the 
little personal pride and excitement she undoubtedly 
feels at having, in so creditable and natural a manner, 
secured a hold on the most interesting person of the 
season. It is curious to see her forgetting her own 
specialties, and neglecting to make her own points, 
that she may bring her companion forward and set her 
in the best light. Miss Bretherton takes her homage 
very prettily ; it is natural to her to be made much of, 
and she does not refuse it, but she in her turn evidently 
admires enormously her friend's social capabilities and 
cleverness, and she is impulsively eager to make some 
return for Mrs. Stuart's kindness an eagerness 
which shows itself in the greatest complaisance to- 
wards all the Stuarts' friends, and in a constant watch- 
[ 277 ] 


fulness for anything which will please and flatter 

'However, here I am as usual wasting time in 
analysis instead of describing to you our Sunday. It 
was one of those heavenly days with which May 
startles us out of our winter pessimism, sky and earth 
seemed to be alike clothed in a young iridescent 
beauty. We found a carriage waiting for us at the 
station, and we drove along a great main road until 
a sudden turn landed us in a green track traversing 
a land of endless commons, as wild and as forsaken of 
humankind as though it were a region in some virgin 
continent. On either hand the gorse was thick and 
golden, great oaks, splendid in the first dazzling sharp- 
ness of their spring green, threw vast shadows over 
the fresh moist grass beneath, and over the lambs 
sleeping beside their fleecy mothers, while the haw- 
thorns rose into the sky in masses of rose-tinted snow, 
each tree a shining miracle of white set in the environ- 
ing blue. 

'Then came the farmhouse old, red-brick, red- 
tiled, casemented everything that the aesthetic soul 
desires the farmer and his wife looking out for us, 
and a pleasant homely meal ready in the parlour, with 
its last-century woodwork. 

'Forbes was greatly in his element at lunch. I 
never knew him more racy; he gave us biographies, 
mostly imaginary, illustrated by sketches, made in the 
intervals of eating, of the sitters whose portraits he has 
condescended to take this year. They range from a 
bishop and a royalty down to a little girl picked up in 
the London streets, and his presentation of the char- 
[ 278 ] 


acteristic attitudes of each those attitudes which, 
according to him, betray the " inner soul ' ' of the bishop 
or the foundling was admirable. Then he fell upon 
the Academy that respected body of which I sup- 
pose he will soon be the President and tore it limb 
from limb. With what face I shall ever sit at the same 
table with him at the Academy dinners of the future 
supposing fortune ever exalts me again as she did this 
year to that august meal I hardly know. Millais's 
faces, Pettie's knights, or Calderon's beauties all 
fared the same. You could not say it was ill-natured ; 
it was simply the bare truth of things put in the whim- 
sical manner which is natural to Forbes. 

'Miss Bretherton listened to and laughed at it all, 
finding her way through the crowd of unfamiliar names 
and allusions with a woman's cleverness, looking 
adorable all the time in a cloak of some brown velvet 
stuff, and a large hat also of brown velvet. She has a 
beautiful hand, fine and delicate, not specially small, 
but full of character ; it was pleasant to watch it play- 
ing with her orange, or smoothing back every now and 
then the rebellious locks which will stray, do what she 
will, beyond the boundaries assigned to them. Pre- 
sently Wallace was ill -ad vised enough to ask her which 
pictures she had liked best at the Private View; she 
replied by picking out a ballroom scene of Forth 's and 
an unutterable mawkish thing of Halford's a trou- 
badour in a pink dressing-gown, gracefully intertwined 
with violet scarves, singing to a party of robust young 
women in a "light which never was on sea or land." 
" You could count all the figures in the first," she said, 
"it was so lifelike, so real"; and then Halford was 
[ 279 ] 


romantic, the picture was pretty, and she liked it. I 
looked at Forbes with some amusement ; it was grati- 
fying, remembering the rodomontade with which Wal- 
lace and I had been crushed on the night of the White 
Lady, to see him wince under Miss Bretherton's liking 
of the worst art in England ! Is the critical spirit worth 
something, or is it superfluous in theatrical matters 
and only indispensable in matters of painting ! I think 
he caught the challenge in my eye, for he evidently felt 
himself in some little difficulty. 

' "Oh, you could n't," he said, with a groan, "you 
could n't like that ballroom, and that troubadour, 
Heaven forgive us ! Well, there must be something in 
it, there must be something in it, if it really gives you 
pleasure, I dare say there is ; we 're so confoundedly 
uppish in the way we look at things. If either of them 
had a particle of drawing or a scrap of taste, if both of 
them were n't as bare as a broomstick of the least 
vestige of gift, or any suspicion of knowledge, there 
might be a good deal to say for them ! Only, my dear 
Miss Bretherton, you see it's really not a matter of 
opinion ; I assure you it is n't. I could prove to you, 
as plain as that two and two make four, that Halford's 
figures don't join in the middle, and that Forth's men 
and women are as flat as my hand there is n't a 
back among them ! And then the taste, and the colour, 
and the clap-trap idiocy of the sentiment ! No, I don't 
think I can stand it. I am all for people getting en- 
joyment where they can," with a defiant look at me, 
"and snapping their fingers at the critics. But one 
must draw the line somewhere. There's some art 
that's out of court from the beginning." 
[ 280 ] 


' I could n't resist it. 

'"Don't listen to him, Miss Bretherton," I cried. 
" If I were you I would n't let him spoil your pleasure ; 
the great thing is to feel ; defend your feeling against 
him! It's worth more than his criticisms." 

'Forbes's eyes looked laughing daggers at me from 
under his shaggy white brows. Mrs. Stuart and Wal- 
lace kept their countenances to perfection ; but I had 
him, there's no denying it. + 

' " Oh, I know nothing about it," said Isabel Brether- 
ton, divinely unconscious of the little skirmish going 
on around her. " You must teach me, Mr. Forbes. I 
only know what touches me, what I like that's all 
I know in anything." 

' " It's all we any of us know," said Wallace, airily. 
"We begin with 'I like' and 'I don't like,' then we 
begin to be proud, and make distinctions and find 
reasons ; but the thing beats us, and we come -back in 
the end to 'I like' and 'I don't like.'" 

' The lunch over, we strolled out along the common, 
through heather which as yet was a mere brown 
expanse of flowerless undergrowth, and copses which 
overhead were a canopy of golden oak-leaf, and car- 
peted underneath with primroses and the young up- 
curling bracken. Presently through a little wood we 
came upon a pond lying wide and blue before us under 
the breezy May sky, its shores fringed with scented 
fir-wood and the whole air alive with birds. We sat 
down under a pile of logs fresh-cut and fragrant, and 
talked away vigorously. It was a little difficult often 
to keep the conversation on lines which did not ex- 
clude Miss Bretherton. Forbes, the Stuarts, Wallace, 
[ 281 ] 


and I are accustomed to be together, and one never 
realises what a freemasonry the intercourse even of 
a capital is until one tries to introduce an outsider 
into it. We talked the theatre, of course, the ways of 
different actors, the fortunes of managers. Isabel 
Bretherton naturally has as yet seen very little; her 
comments were mainly personal, and all of a friendly, 
enthusiastic kind, for the profession has been very 
cordial to her^*A month or five weeks more and her 
engagement at the Calliope will be over. There are 
other theatres open to her, of course, and all the man- 
agers are at her feet ; but she has set her heart upon 
going abroad for some time, and has, I imagine, made 
so much money this season that the family cannot in 
decency object to her having her own way. "I am 
wild to get to Italy," she said to me in her emphatic, 
impetuous way. " Sir Walter Rutherford has talked to 
me so much about it that I am beginning to dream of 
it. I long to have done with London and be off ! This 
English sun seems to me so chilly/' and she drew her 
winter cloak about her with a little shiver, although 
the day was really an English summer day, and Mrs. 
Stuart was in cotton. "I come from such warmth, 
and I loved it. I have been making acquaintance with 
all sorts of horrors since I came to London face- 
ache and rheumatism and colds ! I scarcely knew 
there were such things in the world. And I never 
knew what it was to be tired before. Sometimes I can 
hardly drag through my work. I hate it so : it makes 
me cross like a naughty child!" 

'"Do you know," I said, flinging myself down be- 
side her on the grass and looking up at her, "that it's 
[ 282 ] 


altogether wrong? Nature never meant you to feel 
tired; it's monstrous, it's against the natural order of 

' " It's London," she said, with her little sigh and the 
drooping lip that is so prettily pathetic. " I have the 
roar in my ears all day, and it seems to be humming 
through my sleep at night. And then the crowd, and 
the hurry people are in, and the quickness and sharp- 
ness of things ! But I have only a few weeks more," 
she added, brightening, "and then by October I shall 
be more used to Europe the climate and the life." 

' I am much impressed, and so is Mrs. Stuart, by the 
struggle her nervous strength is making against Lon- 
don. All my nursing of you, Marie, and of our mother 
has taught me to notice these things in women, and 
I find myself taking often a very physical and medicaL 
view of Miss Bretherton. You see, it is a case of a 
Northern temperament and constitution relaxed by 
tropical conditions, and then exposed once more in 
an exceptional degree to the strain and stress of 
Northern life. I rage when I think of such a piece of 
physical excellence marred and dimmed by our harsh 
English struggle. And all for what? For a common- 
place, make-believe art, vulgarising in the long run 
both to the artist and the public ! There is a sense of 
tragic waste about it. Suppose London destroys her 
health there are some signs of it what a futile, 
ironical pathos there would be in it. I long to step 
in, to "have at" somebody, to stop it. 

'A little incident later on threw a curious light upon 
her. We had moved on to the other side of the pond 
and were basking in the fir-wood. The afternoon sun 
[ 283 ] 


was slanting through the branches on to the bosom of 
the pond ; a splendid Scotch fir just beside us tossed 
out its red-limbed branches over a great bed of green 
reeds, starred here and there with yellow irises. The 
woman from the keeper's cottage near had brought 
us out some tea, and most of us had fallen into a 
sybaritic frame of mind in which talk seemed to be 
a burden on the silence and easeful peace of the scene. 
Suddenly Wallace and Forbes fell upon the question 
of Balzac, of whom Wallace has been making a study 
lately, and were soon landed in a discussion of Balzac's 
method of character-drawing. Are Eugene de Rastig- 
nac, le Pere Goriot, and old Grandet real beings or 
mere incarnations of qualities, mathematical deduc- 
tions from a given point? At last I was drawn in, and 
the Stuarts: Stuart has trained his wife in Balzac, 
;and she has a dry original way of judging a novel, 
which is stimulating and keeps the ball rolling. It 
was the first time that the talk had not centred in one 
way or another round Miss Bretherton, who, of course, 
was the first consideration throughout the day in all 
our minds. We grew vehement and forgetful, till at 
last a little movement of hers diverted the general 
current. She had taken off her hat and was leaning 
back against the oak under which she sat, watching 
with parted lips and a gaze of the purest delight and 
wonder the movements of a nuthatch overhead, a 
creature of the woodpecker kind, with delicate purple 
grey plumage, who was tapping the branch above her 
for insects with his large disproportionate bill, and 
then skimming along to a sand-bank a little distance 
off, where he disappeared with his prey into his nest* 
[ 284 ] 

Forked Pond, Surrey 


'"Ha!" said Wallace, who is a bird-lover, "a truce 
to Balzac, and let us watch those nuthatches ! Miss 
Bretherton's quite right to prefer them to French 

'"French novels!" she said, withdrawing her eyes 
from the branch above her, and frowning a little at 
Wallace as she spoke. "Please don't expect me to 
talk about them I know nothing about them I 
have never wished to." 

'Her voice had a tone almost of hauteur in it. I 
have noticed it before. It is the tone of the famous 
actress accustomed to believe in herself and her own 
opinion. I connected it, too, with all one hears of her 
determination to look upon herself as charged with a 
mission for the reform of stage morals. French novels 
and French actresses ! apparently she regards them all 
as so many unknown horrors, standing in the way of 
the purification of dramatic art by a beautiful young 
person with a high standard of duty. It is very odd ! 
Evidently she is the Scotch Presbyterian's daughter 
still, for all her profession, and her success, and her 
easy ways with the Sabbath ! Her remark produced 
a good deal of unregenerate irritation in me. If she 
were a first-rate artist to begin with, I was inclined to 
reflect, this moral enthusiasm would touch and charm 
one a good deal more ; as it is, considering her position, 
it is rather putting the cart before the horse. But, of 
course, one can understand that it is just these traits 
in her that help her to make the impression she does 
on London society and the orthodox public in general. 

' Wallace and I went off after the nuthatches, en- 
joying a private laugh by the way over Mrs. Stuart's 
[ 285 ] 


little look of amazement and discomfort as Miss 
Bretherton delivered herself. When we came back 
we found Forbes sketching her she sitting rather 
flushed and silent under the tree, and he drawing 
away and working himself at every stroke into a 
greater and greater enthusiasm. And certainly she 
was as beautiful as a dream, sitting against that tree, 
with the brown heather about her and the young 
oak-leaves overhead. But I returned in an antagon- 
istic frame of mind, a little out of patience with her 
and her beauty, and wondering why Nature always 
blunders somewhere ! 

' However, on the way home she had another and 
a pleasanter surprise for me. A carriage was waiting 
for us on the main road, and we strolled towards it 
through the gorse and the trees and the rich level 
evening lights. I dropped behind for some primroses 
still lingering in bloom beside a little brook; she 
stayed too, and we were together, out of earshot of 
the rest. 

'"Mr. Kendal," she said, looking straight at me, as 
I handed the flowers to her, "you may have misunder- 
stood something just now. I don't want to pretend to 
what I have n't got. I don't know French, and I can't 
read French novels if I wished to ever so much." 

'What was I to say? She stood looking at me 
seriously, a little proudly, having eased her conscience, 
as it seemed to me, at some cost to herself. I felt at 
first inclined to turn the thing off with a jest, but 
suddenly I thought to myself that I too would speak 
my mind. 

' "Well," I said, deliberately, walking on beside her; 
[ 286 ] 


"you lose a good deal. There are hosts of French 
novels which I would rather not see a woman touch 
with the tips of her fingers ; but there are others, which 
take one into a bigger world than we English people, 
with our parochial ways of writing and seeing, have 
any notion of. George Sand carries you full into the 
mid-European stream you feel it flowing, you are 
brought into contact with all the great ideas, all the 
big interests ; she is an education in herself. And then 
Balzac ! he has such a range and breadth, he teaches 
one so much of human nature, and with such con- 
science, such force of representation! It's the same 
with their novels as with their theatre. Whatever other 
faults he may have, a first-rate Frenchman of the 
artistic sort takes more pains over his work than any- 
body else in the world. They don't shirk, they throw 
their life-blood into it, whether it's acting, or paint- 
ing, or writing. You've never seen Desforets, I think? 
- no, of course not, and you will be gone before she 
comes again. What a pity!" 

' Miss Bretherton picked one of my primroses ruth- 
lessly to pieces, and flung it away from her with one 
of her nervous gestures. "I am not sorry," she said. 
" Nothing would have induced me to go and see her." 

' " Indeed ! " I said, waiting a little curiously for what 
she would say next. 

' " It's not that I am jealous of her," she exclaimed, 
with a quick proud look at me; "not that I don't be- 
lieve she's a great actress; but I can't separate her 
acting from what she is herself. It is women like that 
who bring discredit on the whole profession it is 
women like that who make people think that no good 
[ 287 ] 


woman can be an actress. I resent it, and I mean to 
take the other line. I want to prove, if I can, that a 
woman may be an actress and still be a lady, still be 
treated just as you treat the women you know and 
respect! I mean to prove that there need never be 
a word breathed against her, that she is anybody's 
equal, and that her private life is her own, and not 
the public's ! It makes my blood boil to hear the way 
people especially men talk about Madame Des- 
forets; there is no one of you who would let your wife 
or your sister shake hands with her, and yet how you 
rave about her, how you talk as if there were nothing 
in the world but genius and French genius!" 

' It struck me that I had got to something very 
much below the surface in Miss Bretherton. It was 
a curious outburst ; I remembered how often her critics 
had compared her to Desforets, greatly to her disad- 
vantage. Was this championship of virtue quite gen- 
uine? or was it merely the best means of defending her- 
self against a rival by the help of British respectability ? 

' " Madame Desforets," I said, perhaps a little dryly, 
"is a riddle to her best friends, and probably to her- 
self; she does a thousand wild, imprudent, bad things 
if you will, but she is the greatest actress the modern 
world has seen, and that's something to have done for 
your generation. To have moved the feelings and 
widened the knowledge of thousands by such delicate, 
such marvellous, such conscientious work as hers - 
there is an achievement so great, so masterly, that I 
for one will throw no stones at her!" 

'It seemed to me all through as though I were 
speaking perversely ; I could have argued on the other 
[ 288 ] 


side as passionately as Isabel Bretherton herself ; but I 
was thinking of her dialogue with the Prince, of that 
feeble, hysterical death-scene, and it irritated me that 
she, with her beauty, and with British Philistinism and 
British virtue to back her, should be trampling on Des- 
f orets and genius. But I was conscious of my audacity. 
If a certain number of critics have been plain-spoken, 
Isabel Bretherton has none the less been surrounded 
for months past with people who have impressed upon 
her that the modern theatre is a very doubtful busi- 
ness, that her acting is as good as anybody's, and that 
her special mission is to regenerate the manners of the 
stage. To have the naked, artistic view thrust upon 
her that it is the actress's business to act, and that 
if she does that well, whatever may be her personal 
shortcomings, her generation has cause to be grateful 
to her must be repugnant to her. She, too, talks 
about art, but it is like a child who learns a string of 
long words without understanding them. She walked 
on beside me while I cooled down and thought what 
a fool I had been to endanger a friendship which had 
opened so well, her wonderful lips opening once 
or twice as though to speak, and her quick breath 
coming and going as she scattered the yellow petals 
of the flowers far and wide with a sort of mute passion 
which sent a thrill through me. It was as though she 
could not trust herself to speak, and I waited awk- 
wardly on Providence, wishing the others were not 
so far off. But suddenly the tension of her mood 
seemed to give way. Her smile flashed out, and she 
turned upon me with a sweet, eager graciousness, 
quite indescribable. 

[ 289 ] 


' " No, we won't throw stones at her ! She is great, 
I know, but that other feeling is so strong in me. I 
care for my art; it seems to me grand, magnificent ! - 
but I think I care still more for making people feel it is 
work a good woman can do, for holding my own in it, 
and asserting myself against the people who behave 
as if all actresses had done the things that Madame 
Desforets has done. Don't think me narrow and 
jealous. I should hate you and the Stuarts to think 
that of me. You have all been so kind to me such 
good, real friends ! I shall never forget this day Oh ! 
look, there is the carriage standing up there. I wish 
it was the morning and not the evening, and that it 
might all come again ! I hate the thought of London 
and that hot theatre to-morrow night. Oh, my prim- 
roses! What a wretch I am! I've lost them nearly 
all. Look, just that bunch over there, Mr. Kendal, 
before we leave the common." 

'I sprang to get them for her, and brought back 
a quantity. She took them in her hand how unlike 
other women she is after all, in spite of her hatred of 
Bohemia ! and, raising them to her lips, she waved 
a farewell through them to the great common lying 
behind us in the evening sun. " How beautiful ! how 
beautiful ! This English country is so kind, so friendly ! 
It has gone to my heart. Good-night, you wonderful 

' She had conquered me altogether. It was done so 
warmly with such a winning, spontaneous charm. 
I cannot say what pleasure I got out of those prim- 
roses lying in her soft ungloved hand all the way home. 
Henceforward, I feel she may make what judgements 
[ 290 ] 


and draw what lines she pleases; she won't change 
me, and I have some hopes of modifying her; but I am 
not very likely to feel annoyance towards her again. 
She is like some frank, beautiful, high-spirited child 
playing a game she only half -understands. I wish she 
understood it better. I should like to help her to un- 
derstand it but I won't quarrel with her, even in 
my thoughts, any more ! 

' On looking over this letter it seems to me that if 
you were not you, and I were not I, you might with 
some plausibility accuse me of being what? in 
love with Miss Bretherton. But you know me too well. 
You know I am one of the old-fashioned people who 
believe in community of interests in belonging to 
the same world. When I come coolly to think about 
it, I can hardly imagine two worlds, whether out- 
wardly or inwardly, more wide apart than mine and 
Miss Bretherton's.' 


DURING the three weeks which elapsed between the 
two expeditions of the 'Sunday League/ Kendal saw 
Miss Bretherton two or three times under varying cir- 
cumstances. One night he took it into his head to go 
to the pit of the Calliope, and came away more per- 
suaded than before that as an actress there was small 
prospect for her. Had she been an ordinary mortal, 
he thought the original stuff in her might have been 
disciplined into something really valuable by the com- 
mon give and take, the normal rubs and difficulties 
of her profession. But, as it was, she had been lifted 
at once by the force of one natural endowment into 
a position which, from the artistic point of view, 
seemed to him hopeless. Her instantaneous success 
dependent as it was on considerations wholly out- 
side those of dramatic art had denied her all the 
advantages which are to be won from struggle and 
from laborious and gradual conquest. And more than 
this, it had deprived her of an ideal ; it had tended to 
make her take her own performance as the measure 
of the good and possible. For, naturally, it was too 
much to expect that she herself should analyse truly 
the sources and reasons of her popularity. She must 
inevitably believe that some, at least, of it was due 
to her dramatic talent in itself. 'Perhaps some of it 
is/ Kendal would answer himself. 'It is very possible 
that I am not quite fair to her. She has all the faults 
[ 292 ] 


which repel me most. I could get over anything but 
this impression of bare blank ignorance which she 
makes upon me. And as things are at present, it is 
impossible that she should learn. It might be inter- 
esting to have the teaching of her ! But it could only 
be dene by some one with whom she came naturally 
into frequent contact. Nobody could thrust himself 
in upon her. And she seems to know very few people 
who could be of any use to her.' 

On another occasion he came across her in the after- 
noon at Mrs. Stuart's. The conversation turned upon 
his sister, Madame de Chateauvieux, for whom Mrs. 
Stuart had a warm but very respectful admiration. 
They had met two or three times in London, and 
Madame de Chateauvieux's personal distinction, her 
refinement, her information, her sweet urbanity of 
manner, had made a great impression upon the lively 
little woman, who, from the lower level of her own more 
commonplace and conventional success in society, felt 
an awe-struck sympathy for anything so rare, so unlike 
the ordinary type. Her intimacy with Miss Bretherton 
had not gone far before the subject of 'Mr. Kendal's 
interesting sister' had been introduced, and on this 
particular afternoon, as Kendal entered her drawing- 
room, his ear was caught at once by the sound of 
Marie's name. Miss Bretherton drew him impulsively 
into the conversation, and he found himself describing 
his sister's mode of life, her interests, her world, her 
belongings, with a readiness such as he was not very 
apt to show in the public discussion of any subject 
connected with himself. But Isabel Bretherton's frank 
curiosity, her kindling eyes and sweet parted lips, and 
[ 293 ] 


that strain of romance in her which made her so quickly 
responsive to anything which touched her imagina- 
tion, were not easy to resist. She was delightful to his 
eye and sense, and he was as conscious as he had ever 
been of her delicate personal charm. Besides, it was 
pleasant to him to talk of that Parisian world, in which 
he was himself vitally interested, to any one so naive 
and fresh. Her ignorance, which on the stage had 
annoyed him, in private life had its particular attract- 
iveness. And, with regard to this special subject, 
he was conscious of breaking down a prejudice; he 
felt the pleasure of conquering a great reluctance in 
her. Evidently on starting in London she had set 
herself against everything that she identified with 
the great French actress who had absorbed the 
theatre-going public during the previous season; not 
from personal jealousy, as Kendal became ultimately 
convinced, but from a sense of keen moral revolt 
against Madame Desforets's notorious position and 
the stories of her private life which were current in all 
circles. She had decided in her own mind that French 
art meant a tainted art, and she had shown herself 
very restive Kendal had seen something of it on 
their Surrey expedition under any attempts to 
make her share the interest which certain sections 
of the English cultivated public feel in foreign 
thought, and especially in the foreign theatre. Ken- 
dal took particular pains, when they glided off from 
the topic of his sister to more general matters, to 
make her realise some of the finer aspects of the 
French world of which she knew so little, and which 
she judged so harshly; the laborious technical train- 
[ 294 ] 


ing to which the dwellers on the other side of the 
Channel submit themselves so much more readily than 
the English in any matter of art; the intellectual 
conscientiousness and refinement due to the pressure 
of an organised and continuous tradition, and so on. 
He realised that a good deal of what he said or sug- 
gested must naturally be lost upon her. But it was 
delightful to feel her mind yielding to his, while it 
stimulated her sympathy and perhaps roused her 
surprise to find in him every now and then a grave 
and unpretending response to those moral enthusiasms 
in herself which were too real and deep for much 
direct expression. 

'Whenever I am next in Paris/ she said to him, 
when she perforce rose to go, with that pretty hesita- 
tion of manner which was so attractive in her, ' would 
you mind would Madame de Chateauvieux if 
I asked you to introduce me to your sister? It would 
be a great pleasure to me/ 

Kendal made a very cordial reply, and they parted 
knowing more of each other than they had yet done. 
Not that his leading impression of her was in any way 
modified. Incompetent and unpromising as an artist, 
delightful as a woman had been his earliest ver- 
dict upon her, and his conviction of its reasonableness 
had been only deepened by subsequent experience; 
but perhaps the sense of delightfulness was gaining 
upon the sense of incompetence? After all, beauty and 
charm and sex have in all ages been too much for the 
clever people who try to reckon without them. Ken- 
dal was far too shrewd not to recognise the very nat- 
ural and reasonable character of the proceeding, and 
[ 295 ] 


not to smile at the first sign of it in his own person. 
Still, he meant to try, if he could, to keep the two 
estimates distinct, and neither to confuse himself nor 
other people by confounding them. It seemed to him 
an intellectual point of honour to keep his head per- 
fectly cool on the subject of Miss Bretherton's artistic 
claims, but he was conscious that it was not always 
very easy to do a consciousness that made him 
some times all the more recalcitrant under the press- 
ure of her celebrity. 

For it seemed to him that in society he heard of 
nothing but her her beauty, her fascination, and her 
success. At every dinner-table he heard stories of her, 
some of them evident inventions, but all tending in 
the same direction that is to say, illustrating either 
the girl's proud independence and her determination 
to be patronised by nobody, not even by royalty itself, 
or her lavish kind-heartedness and generosity towards 
the poor and the inferiors of her own profession. She 
was for the moment the great interest of London, and 
people talked of her popularity and social prestige as 
a sign of the times and a proof of the changed posi- 
tion of the theatre and of those belonging to it. Ken- 
dal thought it proved no more than that an extremely 
beautiful girl of irreproachable character, brought 
prominently before the public in any capacity what- 
ever, is sure to stir the susceptible English heart, and 
that Isabel Bretherton's popularity was not one 
which would in the long run affect the stage at all. 
But he kept his reflexions to himself, and in general 
talked about her no more than he was forced to do. 
He had a sort of chivalrous feeling that those whom the 
[ 296 ] 


girl had made in any degree her personal friends ought, 
as far as possible, to stand between her and this in- 
quisitive, excited public. And it .was plain to him that 
the enormous social success was not of her seeking, but 
of her relations'. 

One afternoon, between six and seven, Kendal was 
working alone in his room with the unusual prospect of 
a clear evening before him. He had finished a piece 
of writing, and was standing before the fire deep in 
thought over the first paragraphs of his next chapter, 
when he heard a knock; the door opened, and Wal- 
lace stood on the threshold. 

'May I come in? It's a shame to disturb you; but 
I've really got something important to talk to you 
about. I want your advice badly/ 

'Oh, come in, by all means. Here's some cold tea; 
will you have some? or will you stay and dine? I 
must dine early to-night for my work. I'll ring and 
tell Mason.' 

' No, don't ; I can't stay. I must be in Kensington 
at eight.' He threw himself into Kendal's deep reading 
chair, and looked up at his friend standing silent and 
expectant on the hearthrug. ' Do you remember that 
play of mine I showed you in the spring?' 

Kendal took time to think. 

'Perfectly; you mean that play by that young 
Italian fellow which you altered and translated? I 
remember it quite well. I have meant to ask you 
about it once or twice lately.' 

' You thought well of it, I know. Well, my sister has 
got me into the most uncomfortable hobble about it. 
You know I had n't taken it to any manager. I've 
[ 297 ] 


been keeping it by me, working it up here and there. 
I am in no want of money just now, and I had set my 
heart on the thing's being really good well written 
and well acted. Well, Agnes, in a rash moment two or 
three days ago, and without consulting me, told Miss 
Bretherton the whole story of the play, and said that 
she supposed I should soon want somebody to bring it 
out for me. Miss Bretherton was enormously struck 
with the plot, as Agnes told it to her, and the next 
time I saw her she insisted that I should read some 
scenes from it to her - 

' Good Heavens ! and now she has offered to produce 
it and play the principal part in it herself/ interrupted 

Wallace nodded. 'Just so; you see, my relations 
with her are so friendly that it was impossible for me 
to say no. But I never was in a greater fix. She was 
enthusiastic. She walked up and down the room after 
I'd done reading, repeating some of the passages, go- 
ing through some of the situations, and wound up by 
saying, " Give it me, Mr. Wallace ! It shall be the first 
thing I bring out in my October season if you will 
let me have it." Well, of course, I suppose most people 
would jump at such an offer. Her popularity just now 
is something extraordinary, and I see no signs of its 
lessening. Any piece she plays in is bound to be a suc- 
cess, and I suppose I should make a good deal of money 
out of it ; but then, you see, I don't want the money, 

'Yes, yes, I see/ said Kendal, thoughtfully; 'you 
don't want the money, and you feel that she will ruin 
the play. It's a great bore certainly.' 
[ 298 ] 


'Well, you know, how could she help ruining it? 
She could n't play the part of Elvira you remember 
the plot? even decently. It's an extremely difficult 
part. It would be superb I think so, at least in 
the hands of an actress who really understood her busi- 
ness ; but Miss Bretherton will make it one long stagey 
scream, without any modulation, any shades, any deli- 
cacy. It drives one wild to think of it. And yet how, 
in the n^me of fortune, am I to get out of it?' 

'You had thought/ said Kendal, 'I remember, of 
Mrs. Pearson for the heroine/ 

'Yes; I should have tried her. She is not first-rate, 
but at least she is intelligent; she understands some- 
thing of what you want in a part like that. But for 
poor Isabel Bretherton, and those about her, the great 
points in the play will be that she will have long 
speeches and be able to wear "mediaeval" dresses! I 
don't suppose she ever heard of Aragon in her life. Just 
imagine her playing a high-born Spanish woman of the 
fifteenth century! Can't you see her?' 

'Well, after all,' said Kendal, with a little laugh, 'I 
should see what the public goes for mostly that is, 
to say, Isabel Bretherton in effective costume. No, it- 
would be a great failure not a failure, of course, in 
the ordinary sense. Her beauty, the mediaeval get-up, 
and the romantic plot of the piece, would carry it 
through, and, as you say, you would probably make a 
great deal by it. But, artistically, it would be a ghastly 
failure. And Hawes! Hawes, I suppose, would play 
Macias? Good Heavens!' 

'Yes,' said Wallace, leaning his head on his hands 
and looking gloomily out of window at the spire of 
[ 299 ] 


St. Bride's Church. 'Pleasant, isn't it? But what on 
earth am I to do? I never was in a greater hole. I'm 
not the least in love with that girl, Kendal, but there 
is n't anything she asked me to do for her that I 
would n't do if I could. She's the warmest-hearted 
creature one of the kindest, frankest, sincerest wo- 
men that ever stepped. I feel at times that I 'd rather 
cut my hand off than hurt her feelings by throwing her 
offer in her face, and yet, that play has been the apple 
of my eye to me for months ; the thought of seeing it 
spoilt by clumsy handling is intolerable to me.' 

'I suppose it would hurt her feelings,' said Kendal, 
:meditatively, 'if you refused?' 

' Yes/ said Wallace, emphatically ; ' I believe it would 
wound her extremely. You see, in spite of all her suc- 
cess, she is beginning to be conscious that there are 
two publics in London. There is the small fastidious 
public of people who take the theatre seriously, and 
there is the large easy-going public who get the only 
: sensation they want out of her beauty and her personal 
prestige. The enthusiasts have no difficulty, as yet, in 
holding their own against the scoffers, and for a long 
time Miss Bretherton knew and cared nothing for what 
tlae critical people said, but of late I have noticed at 
times that she knows more and cares more than she did. 
It seems to me that there is a little growing soreness in 
her mind, and just now if I refuse to let her have that 
play it will destroy her confidence in her friends, as it 
were. She won't reproach me, she won't quarrel with 
me, but it will go to her heart. Do, for Heaven's sake, 
Kendal, help me to some plausible fiction or other!' 

' I wish I could/ said Kendal, pacing up and down, 
[ 300 ] 


his grey hair falling forward over his brow. There was 
a pause, and then Kendal walked energetically up to 
his friend and laid his hand on his shoulder. 

'You ought n't to let her have that play, Wallace; 
I'm quite clear on that. You know how much I like 
her. She's all you say, and more; but art is art, and 
acting is acting. I, at any rate, take these things seri- 
ously, and you do too. We rejoice in it for her sake ; 
but, after all, when one comes to think of it, this pop- 
ularity of hers is enough to make one despair. Some- 
times I think it will throw back the popular dramatic 
taste for years. At any rate, I am clear that if a man 
has got hold of a fine work of art, as you have in that 
play, he has a duty to it and to the public. You are 
bound to see it brought out under the best possible 
conditions, and we all know that Miss Bretherton's 
acting, capped with Hawes's, would kill it, from the 
artistic point of view/ 

' Perfectly true, perfectly true/ said Wallace. ' Well, 
would you have me tell her so?' 

' You must get out of it somehow. Tell her that the 
part is one you feel won't suit her won't do her 

' Much good that would do ! She thinks the part just 
made for her costumes and all.' 

' Well, then, say you have n't finished your revision, 
and you must have time for more work at it ; that will 
postpone the thing, and she will hear of something else 
which will put it out of her head.' 

'There are all sorts of reasons against that,' said 
Wallace; 'it's hardly worth while going through them. 
In the first place, she wouldn't believe me; in the 
[ 301 ] 


second, she won't forget it, whatever happens, and it 
would only put the difficulty off a few weeks at most. 
I feel so stupid about the whole thing. I like her too 
much. I'm so afraid of saying anything to hurt her, 
that I can't finesse. All my wits desert me. I say, 


Wallace hesitated, and glanced up at his friend with 
his most winning expression. 

' Do you think you could earn my eternal gratitude 
and manage the thing for me? You know we're going 
to Oxford next Sunday, and I suppose we shall go to 
Nuneham, and there will be opportunities for walks, 
and so on. Could you possibly take it in hand ? She has 
an immense respect for you intellectually. If you tell 
her that you're sure the part won't suit her, that she 
won't do herself justice in it ; if you could lead the con- 
versation on to it and try to put her out of love for 
the scheme without seeming to have a commission 
from me in any way, I should be indeed everlastingly 
obliged ! You would n't make a mess of it, as I should 
be sure to do. You'd keep your head cool.' 

'Well!' said Kendal, laughing, balancing himself on 
the table facing Wallace. 'That's a tempting pro- 
spect! But if I don't help you out, you'll give in, I 
know; you're the softest of men, and I don't want you 
to give in.' 

'Yes, of course I shall give in,' said Wallace, with 
smiling decision. 'If you don't want me to, suppose 
you take the responsibility. I 've known you do dif- 
ficult things before ; you manage somehow to get your 
own way without offending people.' 
[ 302 ] 


'H'm,' said Kendal; 'I don't know whether that's 
flattering or not.' He began to walk up and down the 
room again, cogitating. ' I don't mind trying,' he said 
at last, 'in a very gingerly way. I can't, of course, 
undertake to be brutal. It would be impossible for 
any one to treat her roughly. But there might be ways 
of doing it. There 's time to think over the best way of 
doing it. Supposing, however, she took offence? Sup- 
posing, after Sunday next, she never speaks to either 
of us again?' 

'Oh!' said Wallace, wincing, 'I should give up the 
play at once if she really took it to heart. She attaches 
one to her. I feel towards her as though she were a 
sister only more interesting, because there's the 
charm of novelty.' 

Kendal smiled. ' Miss Bretherton has n't got to that 
yet with me. Sisters, to my mind, are as interesting as 
anybody, and more so. But how on earth, Wallace, 
have you escaped falling in love with her all this time? ' 

'Oh, I had enough of that last year,' said Wallace, 
abruptly, rising and looking for his overcoat, while 
his face darkened; 'it's an experience I don't take 

Kendal was puzzled ; then his thoughts quickly put 
two and two together. He remembered a young 
Canadian widow who had been a good deal at Mrs. 
Stuart's house the year before; he recalled certain 
suspicions of his own about her and his friend her 
departure from London and Wallace's long absence 
in the country. But he said nothing, unless there 
was sympathy in the cordial grip of his hand as he 
accompanied the other to the door. 
[ 303 ] 


On the threshold Wallace turned irresolutely. 'It 
will be a risk next Sunday/ he said; 'I'm determined 
it shan't be anything more. She is not the woman, 
I think, to make a quarrel out of a thing like that.' 

'Oh no/ said Kendal; 'keep your courage up. I 
think it may be managed. You give me leave to 
handle Elvira as I like? ' 

' Oh Heavens, yes !' said Wallace; 'get me out of the 
scrape any way you can, and I'll bless you for ever. 
What a brute I am never to have asked after your 
work! Does it get on?' 

'As much as any work can in London just now. I 
must take it away with me somewhere into the country 
next month. It does n't like dinner-parties.' 

'Like me/ said Wallace, with a shrug. 

'Nonsense!' said Kendal; 'you're made for them. 
Good -night.' 

'Good-night. It's awfully good of you/ 

'What? Wait till it 'swell over!' 

Wallace ran down the stairs and was gone. Kendal 
walked back slowly into his room and stood meditat- 
ing. It seemed to him that Wallace did not quite 
realise the magnificence of his self-devotion. 'For, 
after all, it's an awkward business/ he said to himself, 
shaking his head over his own temerity. ' How I am to 
come round a girl as frank, as direct, as unconven- 
tional as that, I don't quite know ! But she ought not 
to have that play ; it's one of the few good things that 
have been done for the English stage for a long time 
past. It's well put together, the plot good, three or 
four strongly marked characters, and some fine Victor 
Hugoish dialogue, especially in the last act. But there 
[ 304 ] 


is extravagance in it, as there is in all the work of that 
time, and in Isabel Bretherton's hands a great deal of 
it would be grotesque : nothing would save it but her 
reputation and the get-up, and that would be too great 
a shame. No, no ; it will not do to have the real thing 
swamped by all sorts of irrelevant considerations in 
this way. I like Miss Bretherton heartily, but I like 
good work, and if I can save the play from her, I shall 
save her too from what everybody with eyes in his 
head would see to be a failure!' 

It was a rash determination. Most men would have 
prudently left the matter to those whom it immedi- 
ately concerned, but Kendal had a Quixotic side to 
him, and at this time in his life a whole-hearted devo- 
tion to certain intellectual interests, which decided his 
action on a point like this. In spite of his life in so- 
eiety, books and ideas were at this moment much more 
real to him than men and women. He judged life from 
the standpoint of the student and the man of letters, 
in whose eyes considerations, which would have 
seemed abstract and unreal to other people, had be- 
come magnified and all-important. In this matter of 
Wallace and Miss Bretherton he saw the struggle 
between an ideal interest, so to speak, and a personal 
interest, and he was heart and soul for the ideal. Face 
to face with the living human creature concerned, his 
principles, as we have seen, were apt to give way a 
little, for the self underneath was warm-hearted and 
impressionable, but in his own room and by himself 
they were strong and vigorous, and would allow of no 

He ruminated over the matter during his solitary 
[ 305 ] 


meal, planning his line of action. 'It all depends/ he 
said to himself, ' on that, if what Wallace says about 
her is true, if my opinion has really any weight with 
her, I shall be able to manage it without offending her. 
It's good of her to speak of me as kindly as she seems 
to do; I was anything but amiable on that Surrey 
Sunday. However, I felt then that she liked me all 
the better for plain-speaking; one may be tolerably 
safe with her that she won't take offence unreasonably. 
What a picture she made as she pulled the primroses 
to pieces it seemed all up with one ! And then her 
smile flashing out her eagerness to make amends - 
to sweep away a harsh impression her pretty grate- 
fulness enchanting!' 

On Saturday, at lunch-time, Wallace rushed in for a 
few minutes to say that he himself had avoided Miss 
Bretherton all the week, but that things were coming 
to a crisis. 'I've just got this note from her,' he said, 
despairingly, spreading it out before Kendal, who was 
making a scrappy bachelor meal, with a book on 
each side of him, at a table littered with papers. 

'Could anything be more prettily done? If you 
don't succeed to-morrow, Kendal, I shall have signed 
the agreement before three days are over!' 

It was indeed a charming note. She asked him to 
fix any time he chose for an appointment with her and 
her business manager, and spoke with enthusiasm of 
the play. 'It cannot help being a great success,' she 
wrote ; ' I feel that I am not worthy of it, but I will do 
my very best. The part seems to me, in many respects, 
as though it had been written for me. You have never, 
indeed, I remember, consented in so many words to 
[ 306 ] 


let me have Elvira. I thought I should meet you at 
Mrs. Stuart's yesterday, and was disappointed. But 
I am sure you will not say me nay, and you will see 
how grateful I shall be for the chance your work will 
give me/ 

'Yes, that's done with real delicacy/ said Kendal. 
' Not a word of the pecuniary advantages of her offer, 
though she must know that almost any author would 
give his eyes just now for such a proposal. Well, we 
shall see. If I can't make the thing look less attractive 
to her without rousing her suspicions, and if you can't 
screw up your courage to refuse why, you must sign 
the agreement, my dear fellow, and make the best of 
it; you will find something else to inspire you before 

'It's most awkward,' sighed Wallace, as though 
making up his perplexed mind with difficulty. ' The 
great chance is that by Agnes's account she is very 
much inclined to regard your opinion as a sort of 
intellectual standard ; she has two or three times talked 
of remarks of yours as if they had struck her. Don't 
quote me at all, of course. Do it as impersonally as 
you can ' 

' If you give me too many instructions,' said Kendal, 
returning the letter with a smile, 'I shall bungle it. 
Don't make me nervous. I can't promise you to suc- 
ceed, and you must n't bear me a grudge if I fail.' 

'A grudge! No, I should think not. By the way, 
have you heard from Agnes about the trains to-mor- 

'Yes, Paddington, 10 o'clock, and there is an 8.15 
train back from Culham. Mrs. Stuart says we're to 
[ 307 1 


lunch in Balliol, run down to Nuneham afterwards, and 
leave the boats there, to be brought back/ 

* Yes, we lunch with that friend of ours I think 
you know him Herbert Sartoris. He has been a 
Balliol don for about a year. I only trust the weather 
will be what it is to-day/ 

The weather was all that the heart of man could 
desire, and the party met on the Paddington platform 
with every prospect of another successful day. Forbes 
turned up punctual to the moment, and radiant under 
the combined influence of the sunshine and of Miss 
Bretherton's presence; Wallace had made all the 
arrangements perfectly, and the six friends found them- 
selves presently journeying along to Oxford, at that 
moderated speed which is all that a Sunday express 
can reach. The talk flowed with zest and gaiety ; the 
Surrey Sunday was a pleasant memory in the back- 
ground, and all were glad to find themselves in the 
same company again. It seemed to Kendal that Miss 
Bretherton was looking rather thin and pale, but she 
would not admit it, and chattered from her corner to 
Forbes and himself with the mirth and abandon of a 
child on its holiday. At last the 'dreaming spires' of 
Oxford rose from the green, river-threaded plain, and 
they were at their journey's end. A few more minutes 
saw them alighting at the gate of the new Balliol, 
where stood Herbert Sartoris looking out for them. 
He was a young don with a classical edition on hand 
which kept him up working after term, within reach 
of the libraries, and he led the way to some pleasant 
rooms overlooking the inner quadrangle of Balliol, 
showing in his well-bred look and manner an abundant 
[ 308 ] 


consciousness of the enormous good fortune which had 
sent him Isabel Bretherton for a guest. For at that 
time it was almost as difficult to obtain the presence 
of Miss Bretherton at any social festivity as it was to 
obtain that of royalty. Her Sundays were the objects 
of conspiracies for weeks beforehand on the part of 
those persons in London society who were least ac- 
customed to have their invitations refused, and to 
have and to hold the famous beauty for more than an 
hour in his own rooms, and then to enjoy the privilege 
of spending five or six long hours on the river with her, 
were delights which, as the happy young man felt, 
would render him the object of envy to all at least of 
his fellow-dons below forty. 

In streamed the party, filling up the book-lined 
rooms and startling the two old scouts in attendance 
into an unwonted rapidity of action. Miss Bretherton 
wandered round, surveyed the familiar Oxford lunch- 
eon-table, groaning under the time-honoured summer 
fare, the books, the engravings, and the sunny, irreg- 
ular quadrangle outside, with its rich adornings of 
green, and threw herself down at last on to the low 
window-seat with a sigh of satisfaction. 

' How quiet you are ! how peaceful ! how delightful 
it must be to live here! It seems as if one were in 
another world from London. Tell me what that build- 
ing is over there; it's too new, it ought to be old and 
grey like the colleges we saw coming up here. Is every- 
body gone away "gone down" you say? I should 
like to see all the learned people walking about for 

' I could show you a good many if there were time/ 
[ 309 ] 


said young Sartoris, hardly knowing, however, what 
he was saying, so lost was he in admiration of that 
marvellous changing face. ' The vacation is the time 
they show themselves; it's like owls coming out at 
night. You see, Miss Bretherton, we don't keep many 
of them; they're in the way in term-time. But in 
vacation they have the colleges and the parks and 
the Bodleian to themselves, and you may study their 
ways, and their spectacles, and their umbrellas, under 
the most favourable conditions.' 

'Oh yes,' said Miss Bretherton, with a little scorn, 
'people always make fun of what they are proud of. 
But I mean to believe that you are all learned, and 
that everybody here works himself to death, and that 
Oxford is quite, quite perfect!' 

'Did you hear what Miss Bretherton was saying, 
Mrs. Stuart?' said Forbes, when they were seated 
at luncheon. ' Oxford is perfect, she declares already ; 
I don't think I quite like it: it's too hot to last.' 

'Am I such a changeable creature, then?' said Miss 
Bretherton, smiling at him. 'Do you generally find 
my enthusiasm cool down?' 

'You are as constant as you are kind,' said Forbes, 
bowing to her ; ' I am only like a child who sighs to 
see a pleasure nearing its highest point, lest there 
should be nothing so good afterwards.' 

'Nothing so good!' she said, 'and I have only had 
one little drive through the streets. Mr. Wallace, are 
you and Mrs. Stuart really going to forbid me sight- 

' Of course ! ' said Wallace, emphatically. ' That 's one 
of the fundamental rules of the Society. Our charter 


would be a dead letter if we let you enter a single 
college on your way to the river to-day/ 

'The only art, my dear Isabel/ said Mrs. Stuart, 
'that you will be allowed to study to-day, will be the 
art of conversation/ 

'And a most fatiguing one, too!' exclaimed Forbes; 
'it beats sight-seeing hollow. But, my dear Miss 
Bretherton, Kendal and I will make it up to you. 
We'll give you an illustrated history of Oxford on the 
way to Nuneham. I'll do the pictures, and he shall do 
the letterpress. Oh ! the good times I've had up here 
- much better than he ever had' nodding across at 
Kendal, who was listening. 'He was too proper be- 
haved to enjoy himself; he got all the right things, all 
the proper first-classes and prizes, poor fellow! But, 
as for me, I used to scribble over my note-books all 
lecture-time, and amuse myself the rest of the day. 
And then, you see, I was up twenty years earlier than 
he was, and the world was not as virtuous then as it is 
now, by a long way.' 

Kendal was interrupting, when Forbes, who was in 
one of his maddest moods, turned round upon his 
chair to watch a figure passing along the quadrangle 
in front of the bay-window. 

' I say, Sartoris, is n't that Camden, the tutor who 
was turned out of Magdalen a year or two ago for that 
atheistical book of his, and whom you took in, as you 
do all the disreputables? Ah, I knew it! 

" By the pricking of my thumbs 
Something wicked this way comes." 

That's not mine, my dear Miss Bretherton; it's 
Shakespeare's first, Charles Lamb's afterwards. But 


look at him well he's a heretic, a real, genuine 
heretic. Twenty years ago it would have been a thrill- 
ing sight; but now, alas ! it's so common that it's not 
the victim but the persecutors who are the curiosity.' 

'I don't know that,' said young Sartoris. 'We 
liberals are by no means the cocks of the walk that we 
were a few years ago. You see, now we have got 
nothing to pull against, as it were. So long as we had 
two or three good grievances, we could keep the party 
together and attract all the young men. We were 
Israel going up against the Philistines, who had us in 
their grip. But now, things are changed; we've got 
our own way all round, and it's the Church party who 
have the grievances and the cry. It is we who are the 
Philistines and the oppressors in our turn, and, of 
course, the young men as they grow up are going into 

'And a very good thing, too ! ' said Forbes. ' It 's the 
only thing that prevents Oxford becoming as dull as 
the rest of the world. All your picturesqueness, so to 
speak, has been struck out of the struggle between the 
two forces. The Church force is the one that has given 
you all your buildings and your beauty, while, as for 
you liberals, who will know such a lot of things that 
you're none the happier for knowing well, I sup- 
pose you keep the place habitable for the plain man 
who does n't want to be bullied. But it's a very good 
thing the other side are strong enough to keep you in 

The conversation flowed on vigorously Forbes 
guiding it, now here, now there, while Kendal pre- 
sently turned away to talk in an undertone to Mrs. 
[ 312 ] 


Stuart, who sat next him, at the farther corner of the 
table from Miss Bretherton. 

'Edward has told you of my escapade/ said Mrs. 
Stuart. 'Yes, I have put my foot in it dreadfully. I 
don't know how it will turn out, I am sure. She's so 
set upon it, .and Edward is so worried. I don't know 
how I came to tell her. You see, I 've seen so much of 
her lately, it slipped out when we were talking/ 

'It was very natural/ said Kendal, glad to notice 
from Mrs. Stuart's way of attacking the subject that 
she knew nothing of his own share in the matter. It 
would have embarrassed him to be conscious of an- 
other observer. ' Oh, a hundred things may turn up ; 
there are ways out of these things if one is determined 
to find them.' 

Mrs. Stuart shook her head. 'She is so curiously 
bent upon it. She is possessed with the idea that the 
play will suit her better than any she has had yet. 
Don't you think her looking very tired? I have come 
to know her much better these last few weeks, and it 
seems absurd, but I get anxious about her. Of course, 
she is an enormous success, but I fancy the theatrical 
part of it has not been quite so great as it was at first.' 

'So I hear, too/ said Kendal; 'the theatre is quite 
as full, but the temper of the audience a good deal 

'Yes/ said Mrs. Stuart; 'and then there is that 
curious little sister of hers, whom you have n't seen, 
and who counts for a good deal. I believe that in 
reality she is very fond of Isabel, and very proud of 
her, but she's very jealous of her too, and she takes 
her revenge upon her sister for her beauty and her 
[ 313 ] 


celebrity by collecting the hostile things people say 
about her acting, and pricking them into her every 
now and then, like so many pins. At first Isabel was 
so sure of herself and the public that she took no 
notice it seemed to her only what every actress 
must expect. But now it is different. She is not so 
strong as she was when she came over, nor so happy, 
I think, and the criticisms tell more. She is heartily 
sick of the White Lady, and is bent upon a change, and 
I believe she thinks this play of Edward's is just what 
she wants to enable her to strengthen her hold upon 
the public/ 

'There never was a greater delusion/ said Kendal; 
'it's the last part in the world she ought to attempt. 
Properly speaking, unless she puts it in, there's no 
posing in it, none of that graceful attitudinising she 
does so well. It's a long tragic part a tremendous 
strain, and would take all the powers of the most 
accomplished art to give it variety and charm/ 

'Oh, I know/ sighed Mrs. Stuart, 'I know. But 
what is to be done?' 

Kendal shrugged his shoulders with a smile, feeling 
as hopeless as she did. The paleness of the beautiful 
face opposite indeed had touched his sympathies very 
keenly, and he was beginning to think the safety of 
Wallace's play not such a desperately important 
matter after all. However, there was his promise, and 
he must go on with it. ' But I '11 be hanged/ he said to 
himself, 'if I come within a thousand miles of hurting 
her feelings. Wallace must do that for himself if he 
wants to/ 

It had been arranged that Miss Bretherton should 
[ 314 ] 


be allowed two breaches, and two only, of the law 
against sight-seeing a walk through the schools'- 
quadrangle, and a drive down High Street. Mr. Sar- 
toris, who had been an examiner during the summer 
term, and had so crept into the good graces of the 
Clerk of the Schools, was sent off to suborn that func- 
tionary for the keys of the iron gates which on Sun- 
day shut out the Oxford world from the sleepy pre- 
cincts of the Bodleian. The old clerk was in a lax 
vacation mood, and the envoy returned key in hand. 
Mrs. Stuart and Forbes undertook the guidance of 
Miss Bretherton, while the others started to prepare 
the boats. 

It was a hot June day, and the grey buildings, 
with their cool shadows, stood out delicately against 
a pale blue sky dappled with white cloud. Her two 
guides led Miss Bretherton through the quadrangle of 
the schools, which, fresh as it was from the hands 
of the restorer, rose into the air like some dainty 
white piece of old-world confectionery. For the win- 
dows are set so lightly in the stone-work, and are so 
nearly level with the wall, that the whole great build- 
ing has an unsubstantial card-board air, as if a touch 
might dint it. 

'The doctrinaires call it a fault/ said Forbes, in- 
dignantly, pointing out the feature to his companions. 
' I 'd like to see them build anything nowadays with 
half so much imagination and charm/ 

They looked enviously at the closed door of the 

Bodleian, they read the Latin names of the schools 

just freshly painted at intervals round the quadrangle, 

and then Forbes led them out upon the steps in front 

[ 315 ] 


of the Radcliffe and St. Mary's, and let them take 
their time a little. 

' How strange that there should be anything in the 
world/ cried Miss Bretherton, ' so beautiful all through, 
so all of a piece as this! I had no idea it would be 
half so good. Don't, don't laugh at me, Mr. Forbes. 
I have not seen all the beautiful things you other 
people have seen. Just let me rave/ 

'I laugh at you!' said Forbes, standing back in the 
shadow of the archway, his fine, lined face, aglow 
with pleasure, turned towards her. ' 7, who have got 
Oxford in my bones and marrow, so to speak ! Why, 
every stone in the place is sacred to me ! Poetry lives 
here, if she has fled from all the world besides. No, no ; 
say what you like, it cannot be too strong for me.' 

Mrs. Stuart, meanwhile, kept her head cool, ad- 
mired all that she was expected to admire, and did it 
well, 'and never forgot that the carriage was waiting 
for them, and that Miss Bretherton was not to be tired. 
It was she who took charge of the other two, piloted 
them safely into the fly, carried them down the High 
Street, sternly refused to make a stop at Magdalen, 
and finally lan'ded them in triumph to the minute at 
the great gate of Christ Church. Then they strolled 
into the quiet cathedral, delighted themselves with its 
irregular bizarre beauty, its unexpected turns and 
corners, which gave it a capricious, fanciful air for all 
the solidity and business-like strength of its Norman 
framework, and as they rambled out again, Forbes 
made them pause over a window in the northern aisle 
a window by some Flemish artist of the fifteenth 
century, who seems to have embodied in it at once all 
[ 316 ] 


his knowledge and all his dreams. In front sat Jonah 
under his golden-tinted gourd an ill-tempered 
Flemish peasant while behind him the indented 
roofs of the Flemish town climbed the whole height 
of the background. It was probably the artist's native 
town ; some roof among those carefully-outlined gables 
sheltered his own household Lares. But the hill on 
which the town stood, and the mountainous back- 
ground and the purple sea, were the hills and the 
sea not of Belgium, but of a dream country of Italy, 
perhaps, the mediaeval artist's paradise. 

' Happy man !' said Forbes, turning to Miss Brether- 
ton; 'look, he put it together four centuries ago, all 
he knew and all he dreamt of. And there it is to this 
day, and beyond the spirit of that window there is 
no getting. For all our work, if we do it honestly, is a 
compound of what we know and what we dream/ 

Miss Bretherton looked at him curiously. It was as 
though for the first time she connected the man him- 
self with his reputation and his pictures, that the great 
artist in him was more than a name to her. She 
listened to him sympathetically, and looked at the 
window closely, as though trying to follow all he 
had been saying. But it struck Mrs. Stuart that there 
was often a bewilderment in her manner which had 
been strange to it on her first entrance into London. 
Those strong emphatic ways Kendal had first noticed 
in her were less frequent. Sometimes she struck Mrs. 
Stuart as having the air of a half-blindfold person 
trying to find her way along strange roads. 

They passed out into the cool and darkness of the 
cloisters, and through the new buildings, and soon they 
[ 317 ] 


were in the Broad Walk, trees as old as the Common- 
wealth bending overhead, and in front the dazzling 
green of the June meadows, the shining river in the 
.distance, and the sweep of cloud-flecked blue arching 
in the whole. 

The gentlemen were waiting for them, metamor- 
phosed in boating-clothes, and the two boats were 
ready. A knot of idlers and lookers-on watched the 
embarkation, for on Sunday the river is forsaken, 
and they were the only adventurers on its blue ex- 
panse. Off they pushed, Miss Bretherton, Kendal, 
Mr. Stuart, and Forbes in one boat, the remaining 
members of the party in the other. Isabel Bretherton 
had thrown off the wrap which she always carried 
with her, and which she had gathered round her in the 
cathedral, and it lay about her in green fur-edged 
folds, bringing her white dress into relief, the shapely 
fall of the shoulders and all the round slimness of her 
form. As Kendal took the stroke oar, after he had 
arranged everything for her comfort, he asked her if 
Oxford was what she had expected. 

'A thousand times better!' she said eagerly. 

'You have a wonderful power of enjoyment. One 
would think your London life would have spoilt it 
a little/ 

'I don't think anything ever could. I was always 
laughed at for it as a child. I enjoy everything/ 

'Including such a day as you had yesterday? How 
can you play the White Lady twice in one day? It's 
enough to wear you out.' 

'Oh, everybody does it. I was bound to give a 
matinee to the profession some time, and yesterday 
[ 318 ] 


had been fixed for it for ages. But I have only given 
three matinees altogether, and I shan't give another 
before my time is up.' 

'That's a good hearing/ said Kendal. 'Do you get 
tired of the White Lady ?' 

'Yes/ she said, emphatically; 'I am sick of her. 
But/ she added, bending forward with her hands 
clasped on her knee, so that what she said could be 
heard by Kendal only; 'have you heard, I wonder, 
what I have in my head for the autumn? Oh well, 
we must not talk of it now; I have no right to make 
it public yet. But I should like to tell you when we 
get to Nuneham, if there's an opportunity/ 

'We will make one/ said Kendal, with an inward 
qualm. And she fell back again with a nod and a smile. 

On they passed, in the blazing sunshine, through 
Iffley lock and under the green hill crowned with Iffley 
village and its Norman church. The hay was out in 
the fields, and the air was full of it. Children, in tidy 
Sunday frocks, ran along the towing-path to look at 
them ; a reflected heaven smiled upon them from the 
river depths; wild rose-bushes overhung the water, 
and here and there stray poplars rose like landmarks 
into the sky. The heat, after a time, deadened conver- 
sation. Forbes every now and then would break out 
with some comment on the moving landscape, which 
showed the delicacy and truth of his painter's sense, 
or set the boat alive with laughter by some story of 
the unregenerate Oxford of his own undergraduate 
days; but there were long stretches of silence when, 
except to the rowers, the world seemed asleep, and the 
regular fall of the oars like the pulsing of a hot dream. 
[ 319 ] 


It was past five before they steered into the shadow 
of Nuneham Woods. The meadows just ahead were a 
golden blaze of light, but here the shade lay deep and 
green on the still water, spanned by a rustic bridge, 
and broken every now and then by the stately white- 
ness of the swans. Rich steeply-rising woods shut in 
the left-hand bank, and foliage, grass, and wild-flowers 
seemed suddenly to have sprung into a fuller luxuri- 
ance than elsewhere. 

' It's too early for tea/ said Mrs. Stuart's clear little 
voice on the bank; 'at least, if we have it directly it 
will leave such a long time before the train starts. 
Would n't a stroll be pleasant first?' 

Isabel Bretherton and Kendal only waited for the 
general assent before they wandered off ahead of the 
others. ' I should like very much to have a word with 
you,' she said to him as he handed her out of the 
boat. And now, here they were, and, as Kendall felt, 
the critical moment was come. 

' I only wanted to tell you,' she said, as they paused 
in the heart of the wood, a little out of breath after a 
bit of steep ascent, ' that I have got hold of a play for 
next October that I think you are rather specially 
interested in at least, Mr. Wallace told me you had 
heard it all, and given him advice about it while he 
was writing it. I want so much to hear your ideas 
about it. It always seems to me that you have 
thought more about the stage and seen more acting 
than any one else I know, and I care for your opinion 
very much indeed do tell me, if you will, what you 
thought of Elvira!' 

'Well,' said Kendal, quietly, as he made her give up 
[ 320 1 

The River at Oxford 


her wrap to him to carry, 'there is a great deal that's 
fine in it. The original sketch, as the Italian author 
left it, was good, and Wallace has enormously im- 
proved upon it. Only - 

'Is n't it most dramatic?' she exclaimed, interrupt- 
ing him ; ' there are so many strong situations in it, and 
though one might think the subject a little unpleasant 
if one only heard it described, yet there is nothing in 
the treatment but what is noble and tragic. I have 
very seldom felt so stirred by anything. I find myself 
planning the scenes, thinking over them this way and 
that incessantly/ 

' It is very good and friendly of you/ said Kendal, 
warmly, 'to wish me to give you advice about it. Do 
you really want me to speak my full mind?' 

'Of course I do/ she said, eagerly; 'of course I do. 
I think there are one or two points in it that might 
be changed. I shall press Mr. Wallace to make a few 
alterations. I wonder what were the changes that 
occurred to you?' 

' I was n't thinking of changes/ said Kendal, not 
venturing to look at her as she walked beside him, her 
white dress trailing over the moss-grown path, and her 
large hat falling back from the brilliant flushed cheeks 
and queenly throat. 'I was thinking of the play it- 
self, of how the part would really suit you/ 

'Oh, I have no doubts at all about that/ she said, 
but with a quick look at him ; ' I always feel at once 
when a part will suit me, and I have fallen in love with 
this one. It is tragic and passionate, like the White 
Lady, but it is quite a different phase of passion. I am 
tired of scolding and declaiming. Elvira will give me 
[ 321 ] 


an opportunity of showing what I can do with some- 
thing soft and pathetic. I have had such difficulties in 
deciding upon a play to begin my October season with, 
and now this seems to me exactly what I want. People 
prefer me always in something poetical and romantic, 
and this is new, and the mounting of it might be quite 

'And yet I doubt/ said Kendal; 'I think the part 
of Elvira wants variety, and would it not be well for 
you to have more of a change? Something with more 
relief in it, something which would give your lighter 
vein, which comes in so well in the White Lady, more 

She frowned a little and shook her head. 'My turn 
is not that way. I can play a comedy part, of course 
every actor ought to be able to but I don't feel 
at home in it, and it never gives me pleasure to act/ 

' I don't mean a pure light-comedy part, naturally, 
'but something which would be less of a continuous 
tragic strain than this. Why, almost all the modern 
tragic plays have their passages of relief, but the text- 
ure of Elvira is so much the same throughout, I 
cannot conceive a greater demand on any one. And 
then you must consider your company. Frankly, I 
cannot imagine a part less suited to Mr. Hawes than 
Macias; and his difficulties would react on you/ 

' I can choose whom I like/ she said, abruptly ; ' I am 
not bound to Mr. Hawes/ 

'Besides/ he said, cautiously, changing his ground a 

little, ' I should have said only, of course, you must 

' know much better that it is a little risky to give the 

British public such very serious fare as this, and im- 

F 322 1 


mediately after the White Lady. The English theatre- 
goer never seems to me to take kindly to medievalism 
- king and knights and nobles and the fifteenth cen- 
tury are very likely to bore him. Not that I mean to 
imply for a moment that the play would be a failure in 
point of popularity. You have got such a hold that 
you could carry anything through ; but I am inclined 
to think that in Elvira you would be rather fighting 
against wind and tide, and that, as I said before, it 
would be a great strain upon you/ 

'The public makes no objection to Madame Des- 
forets in Victor Hugo/ she answered, quickly, even 
sharply. 'Her parts, so far as I know anything about 
them, are just these romantic parts, and she has made 
her enormous reputation out of them.' 

Kendal hesitated. 'The French have a great tradi- 
tion of them/ he said. 'Racine, after all, was a pre- 
paration for Victor Hugo/ 

'No, no !' she exclaimed, with sudden bitterness and 
a change of voice which startled him ; ' it is not that. 
It is that I am I, and Madame Desforets is Madame 
Desforets. Oh, I see ! I see very well that your mind is 
against it. And Mr. Wallace there were two or three 
things in his manner which have puzzled me. He has 
never said yes to my proposal formally. I understand 
perfectly what it means; you think that I shall do 
the play an injury by acting it ; that it is too good for 

Kendal felt as if a thunderbolt had fallen ; the som- 
bre passion of her manner affected him indescribably. 

'Miss Bretherton!' he cried. 

'Yes, yes!' she said, almost fiercely, stopping in the 
[ 323 ] 


path. 'It's that, I know. I have felt it almost since 
your first word. What power have I, if not tragic 
power? If a part like Elvira does not suit me, what 
does suit me? Of course, that is what you mean. If 
I cannot act Elvira, I am good for nothing I am 
worse than good for nothing I am an impostor, 
a sham!' 

She sat down on the raised edge of the bank, for she 
was trembling, and clasped her quivering hands on her 
knees. Kendal was beside himself with distress. How 
had he blundered so, and what had brought this about? 
It was so unexpected, it was incredible. 

'Do do believe me!' he exclaimed, bending over 
her. ' I never meant anything the least disrespectful 
to you; I never dreamt of it. You asked me to give 
you my true opinion, and my criticism applied much 
more to the play than to yourself. Think nothing of it, 
if you yourself are persuaded. You must know much 
better than I can what will suit you. And as for 
Wallace Wallace will be proud to let you do what 
you will with this play/ 

It seemed to him that he would have said anything 
in the world to soothe her. It was so piteous, so intol- 
erable to him to watch that quivering lip. 

'Ah yes,' she said, looking up, a dreary smile flitting 
over her face, ' I know you did n't mean to wound me ; 
but it was there, your feeling ; I saw it at once. I might 
have seen it, if I had n't been a fool, in Mr. Wallace's 
manner. I did see it. It's only what every one whose 
opinion is worth having is beginning to say. My acting 
has been a nightmare to me lately. I believe it has all 
been a great, great mistake/ 
[ 324 ] 

Nuneham Park 


Kendal never felt a keener hatred of the conven- 
tions which rule the relations between men and women. 
Could he only simply have expressed his own feeling, 
he would have knelt beside her on the path, have taken 
the trembling hands in his own, and comforted her as a 
woman would have done. But as it was, he could only 
stand stiff and awkward before her, and yet it seemed 
to him as if the whole world had resolved itself into his 
own individuality and hers, and as if the gay river- 
party and the bright friendly relations of an hour be- 
fore were separated from the present by an impassable 
gulf. And, worst of all, there seemed to be a strange 
perversity in his speech a fate which drove him into 
betraying every here and there his own real standpoint, 
whether he would or no. 

' You must not say such things/ he said, as calmly as 
he could. ' You have charmed the English public as no 
one else has ever charmed it. Is not that a great thing 
to have done? And if I, who am very fastidious and 
very captious, and over-critical in a hundred ways 
if I am inclined to think that a part is rather more than 
you, with your short dramatic experience, can compass 
quite successfully, why, what does it matter? I may be 
quite wrong. Don't take any notice of my opinion: 
forget it, and let me help you, if I can, by talking over 
the play/ 

She shook her head with a bitter little smile. ' No, 
no ; I shall never forget it. Your attitude only brought 
home to me, almost more strongly than I could bear, 
what I have suspected a long, long time the contempt 
which people like you and Mr. Wallace feel for me!' 

'Contempt!' cried Kendal, beside himself, and feel- 
[ 325 ] 


ing as if all the criticisms he had allowed himself to 
make of her were recoiling in one avenging mass upon 
his head. 'I never felt anything but the warmest 
admiration for your courage, your work, your wo- 
manly goodness and sweetness/ 

' Yes/ she said, rising and holding out her hand half- 
unconsciously for her cloak, which she put round her 
as though the wood had suddenly grown cold ; ' admira- 
tion for me as a woman, contempt for me as an artist ! 
There's the whole bare truth. Does it hold my future 
in it, I wonder ? Is there nothing in me but this beauty 
that people talk of, and which I sometimes hate? 9 

She swept her hair back from her forehead with a 
fierce dramatic gesture. It was as though the self in 
her was rising up and asserting itself against the judge- 
ment which had been passed upon it, as if some hidden 
force, hardly suspected even by herself, were beating 
against its bars. Kendal watched her in helpless 
silence. 'Tell me/ she said, fixing her deep hazel eyes 
upon him, ' you owe it me you have given me so 
much pain. No, no ; you did not mean it. But tell me, 
and tell me from the bottom of your heart that is, if 
you are interested enough in me what is it I want? 
What is it that seems to be threatening me with failure 
as an artist? I work all day long, my work is never out 
of my head ; it seems to pursue me all night. But the 
more I struggle with it the less successful I seem even 
to myself/ 

Her look was haunting : there was despair and there 

was hope in it. It implied that she had set him up in 

her impulsive way as a sort of oracle who alone could 

help her out of her difficulty. In presence of that look 

[ 326 ] 


his own conventionality fell away from him, and he 
spoke the plain, direct truth to her. 

'What you want/ he said, slowly, as if the words 
were forced from him, 'is knowledge! London has 
taught you much, and that is why you are dissatisfied 
with your work it is the beginning of all real success. 
But you want positive knowledge the knowledge 
you could get from books, and the knowledge other 
people could teach you. You want a true sense of what 
has been done and what can be done with your art, and 
you want an insight into the world of ideas lying round 
it and about it. You are very young, and you have had 
to train yourself. But every human art nowadays is so 
complicated that none of us can get on without using 
the great stores of experience others have laid up for 

It was all out now. He had spoken his inmost mind. 
They had stopped again, and she was looking at him 
intently ; it struck him that he could not possibly have 
said what he had been saying unless he had been led on 
by an instinctive dependence upon a great magnanim- 
ity of nature in her. And then the next moment the 
strange opposites the matter held in it flashed across 
him. He saw the crowded theatre, the white figure on 
the stage, his ear seemed to be full of the clamour of 
praise with which London had been overwhelming its 
favourite. It was to this spoilt child of fortune that he 
had been playing the schoolmaster he, one captious 
man of letters, against the world. 

But she had not a thought of the kind, or rather, the 
situation presented itself to her in exactly the contrary 
light. To her Kendal's words, instead of being those of 
[ 327 ] 


a single critic, were the voice and the embodiment of a 
hundred converging impressions and sensations, and 
she felt a relief in having analysed to the full the vague 
trouble which had been settling upon her by this un- 
ravelling of her own feelings and his. 

' I am very grateful to you/ she said, steadily ; ' very. 
It is strange, but almost when I first saw you I felt that 
there was something ominous in you to me. My dream, 
in which I have been living, has never been so perfect 
since, and now I think it has gone. Don't look so 
grieved/ she cried, inexpressibly touched by his face ; ' I 
am glad you told me all you thought. It will be a help 
to me. And as for poor Elvira/ she added, trying to 
smile for all her extreme paleness, 'tell Mr. Wallace 
I give her up. I am not vexed, I am not angry. Don't 
you think now we had better go back to Mrs. Stuart? 
I should like a rest with her before we all meet again/ 

She moved forward as she spoke, and it seemed to 
Kendal that her step was unsteady and that she was 
deadly white. He planted himself before her in the 
descending path, and held out a hand to her to help 
her. She gave him her own, and he carried it impetu- 
ously to his lips. 

' You are nobleness itself !' he cried, from the depths 
of his heart. ' I feel as if I had been the merest pedant 
and blunderer the most incapable, clumsy idiot/ 

She smiled, but she could not answer. And in a few 
more moments voices and steps could be heard ap- 
proaching, and the scene was over. 


THE Sunday party separated at Paddington on the 
night of the Nuneham expedition, and Wallace and 
Eustace Kendal walked eastward together. The jour- 
ney home had been very quiet. Miss Bretherton had 
been forced to declare herself 'extremely tired/ and 
Mrs. Stuart's anxiety and sense of responsibility about 
her had communicated themselves to the rest of the 

' It is the effect of my long day yesterday/ she said, 
apologetically, to Forbes, who hovered about her with 
those affectionate attentions which a man on the verge 
of old age pays with freedom to a young girl. 'It 
won't do to let the public see so much of me in future. 
But I don't want to spoil our Sunday. Talk to me, and 
I shall forget it/ 

Wallace, who had had his eyes about him when she 
and Eustace Kendal emerged from the wood in view of 
the rest of the party, was restless and ill at ease, but 
there was no getting any information, even by a gest- 
ure, from Kendal, who sat in his corner diligently 
watching the moonlight on the flying fields, or making 
every now and then some disjointed attempts at con- 
versation with Mrs. Stuart. 

At the station Miss Bretherton's carriage was wait- 
ing; the party of gentlemen saw her and Mrs. Stuart, 
who insisted on taking her home, into it; the pale, 
smiling face bent forward ; she waved her hand in re- 
sponse to the lifted hats, and she was gone. 
[ 329 ] 


'Well?' said Wallace, with a world of inquiry in his 
voice, as he and Kendal turned eastward. 

' It has been an unfortunate business/ said Kendal, 
abruptly. ' I never did a thing worse, I think, or spent 
a more painful half-hour/ 

Wallace's face fell. ' I wish I had n't bored you with 
my confounded affairs,' he exclaimed. 'It was too 

Kendal was inclined to agree inwardly, for he was in 
a state of irritable reaction ; but he had the justice to 
add aloud, ' It was I who was the fool to undertake it. 
And I think, indeed, it could have been done, but that 
circumstances, which neither you nor I had weighed 
sufficiently, were against it. She is in a nervous, shaken 
state, mentally and physically, and before I had had 
time to discuss the point at all, she had carried it on 
the personal ground, and the thing was up/ 

'She is deeply offended, then?' 

'Not at all, in the ordinary sense; she is too fine 
a creature; but she talked of the "contempt" that you 
and I feel for her!' 

'Good Heavens!' cried Wallace, feeling most un- 
justly persuaded that his friend had bungled the 
matter horribly. 

'Yes/ said Kendal, deliberately; '"contempt," that 
was it. I don't know how it came about. All I know 
is, that what I said, which seemed to me very harmless, 
was like a match to a mine. But she told me to tell 
you that she made no further claim on Elvira. So the 
play is safe/ 

' D the play !' cried Wallace, vigorously, a senti- 
ment to which perhaps Kendal's silence gave con- 
[ 330 ] 


sent. ' But I cannot let it rest there. I must write to 

'I don't think I would, if I were you/ said Kendal. 
' I should let it alone. She looks upon the matter as 
finished. She told me particularly to tell you that she 
was not vexed, and you may be quite sure that she 
is n't, in any vulgar sense. Perhaps that makes it all 
the worse. However, you've a right to know what 
happened, so I'll tell you, as far as I remember/ 

He gave an abridged account of the conversation, 
which made matters a little clearer, though by no 
means less uncomfortable, to Wallace. When it was 
over, they were nearing Vigo Street, the point at which 
their routes diverged, Wallace having rooms in the 
Albany, and Kendal hailed a hansom. 

' If I were you,' he said, as it came up, ' I should, as, 
I said before, let the thing alone as much as possible. 
She will probably speak to you about it, and you will, 
of course, say what you like, but I'm pretty sure she 
won't take up the play again, and if she feels a coolness 
towards anybody, it won't be towards you/ 

'There's small consolation in that!' exclaimed: 

'Anyhow, make the best of it, my dear fellow/ said 
Kendal, as though determined to strike a lighter key. 
'Don't be so dismal, things will look differently to- 
morrow morning they generally do there's no 
tremendous harm done. I'm sorry I did n't do your 
bidding better. Honestly, when I come to think over 
it, I don't see how I could have done otherwise. But 
I don't expect you to think so/ 

Wallace laughed, protested, and they parted, 
[ 331 ] 


A few moments later Kendal let himself into his 
rooms, where lights were burning, and threw himself 
into his reading-chair, beside which his books and 
papers stood ready to his hand. Generally, nothing 
gave him a greater sense of bien-etre than this nightly 
return, after a day spent in society, to these silent and 
faithful companions of his life. He was accustomed to 
feel the atmosphere of his room when he came back 
to it charged with welcome. It was as though the 
thoughts and schemes he had left warm and safe in 
shelter there started to life again after a day's torpor, 
and thronged to meet him. His books smiled at him 
with friendly faces, the open page called to him to 
resume the work of the morning he was, in every 
sense, at home. To-night, however, the familiar spell 
seemed to have lost its force. After a hasty supper 
he took up some proofs, pen in hand. But the first 
page was hardly turned before they had dropped on 
to his knee. It seemed to him as if he still felt on his 
arm the folds of a green, fur-edged cloak, as if the 
touch of a soft cold hand were still lingering in his. 
Presently he fell to recalling every detail of the after- 
noon scene the arching beech trees, the rich red 
and brown of the earth beneath, tinged with the winter 
sheddings of the trees, the little raised bank, her eyes 
as she looked up at him, the soft wisps of her golden 
brown hair under her hat. What superb, unapproach- 
able beauty it was! how living, how rich in content 
and expression ! 

'Am I in love with Isabel Bretherton?' he asked 
himself at last, lying back in his chair with his eyes 
on the portrait of his sister. ' Perhaps Marie could tell 
[ 332 ] 


me I don't understand myself. I don't think so. 
And if I were, I am not a youngster, and my life is 
a tolerably full one. I could hold myself in and trample 
it down if it were best to do so. I can hardly imagine 
myself absorbed in a great passion. My bachelor life 
is a good many years old my habits won't break 
up easily. And, supposing I felt the beginnings of it, 
I could stop it if reason were against it/ 

He left his chair, and began to pace up and down 
the room, thinking. 'And there is absolutely no sort 
of reason in my letting myself fall in love with Isabel 
Bretherton ! She has never given me the smallest right 
to think that she takes any more interest in me than 
she does in hundreds of people whom she meets on 
friendly terms, unless it may be an intellectual in- 
terest, as Wallace imagines, and that's a poor sort of 
stepping-stone to love! And if it were ever possible 
that she should, this afternoon has taken away the 
possibility. For, however magnanimous a woman 
may be, a thing like that rankles: it can't help it. 
She will feel the sting of it worse to-morrow than to- 
day, and, though she will tell herself that she bears 
no grudge, it will leave a gulf between us. For, of 
course, she must go on acting, and, whatever depres- 
sions she may have, she must believe in herself; no 
one can go on working without it, and I shall always 
recall to her something harsh and humiliating ! 

' Supposing, by any chance, it were not so sup- 
posing I were able to gather up my relation with her 
again and make it a really friendly one I should 
take, I think, a very definite line; I should make up 
my mind to be of use to her. After all, it is true what 
[ 333 ] 


she says : there are many things in me that might be 
helpful to her, and everything there was she should 
have the benefit of. I would make a serious purpose 
of it. She should find me a friend worth having/ 

His thoughts wandered on a while in this direction. 
It was pleasant to see himself in the future as Miss 
Bretherton's philosopher and friend, but in the end 
the sense of reality gained upon his dreams. ' I am a 
fool !' he said to himself resolutely at last, 'and I may 
as well go to bed and put her out of my mind. The 
chance is over gone done with, if it ever existed/ 

The next morning, on coming down to breakfast, he 
saw among his letters a handwriting that startled him. 
Where had he seen it before? In Wallace's hand three 
days ago? He opened it, and found the following note : 

MY DEAR MR. KENDAL You know, I think, that I 
am off next week on Monday, if all goes well. We 
go to Switzerland for a while, and then to Venice, 
which people tell me is often very pleasant in August. 
We shall be there by the first week in August, and 
Mr. Wallace tells me he hears from you that your 
sister, Madame de Chateauvieux, will be there about 
the same time. I forgot to ask you yesterday, but, if 
you think she would not object to it, would you give 
me a little note introducing me to her? All that I 
have heard of her makes me very anxious to know her, 
and she would not find me a troublesome person ! We 
shall hardly, I suppose, meet again before I start. If 
not, please remember that my friends can always find 
me on Sunday afternoon. Yours very truly, 

[ 334 ] 


Kendal's hand closed tightly over the note. Then 
he put it carefully back into its envelope, and walked 
away with his hands behind him and the note in them, 
to stare out of window at the red roofs opposite. 

'That is like her/ he murmured to himself; 'I 
wound and hurt her : she guesses I shall suffer for it, 
and, by way of setting up the friendly bond again, 
next day, without a word, she asks me to do her a 
kindness! Could anything be more delicate, more 

Kendal never had greater difficulty in fixing his 
thoughts to his work than that morning, and at last, 
in despair, he pushed his book aside, and wrote an 
answer to Miss Bretherton, and, when that was ac- 
complished, a long letter to his sister. The first took 
him longer than its brevity seemed to justify. It 
contained no reference to anything but her request. 
He felt a compulsion upon him to treat the situation 
exactly as she had done, but, given this limitation, 
how much cordiality and respect could two sides of 
letter-paper be made to carry with due regard to 
decorum and grammar? 

When he next met Wallace, that hopeful, bright- 
tempered person had entirely recovered his cheerful- 
ness. Miss Bretherton, he reported, had attacked the 
subject of Elvira with him, but so lightly that he had 
no opportunity for saying any of the skilful things he 
had prepared. 

' She evidently did not want the question seriously 

opened/ he said, 'so I followed your advice and let it 

alone, and since then she has been charming both to 

Agnes and me. I feel myself as much of a brute as 

[ 335 ] 


ever, but I see that the only thing I can do is to hold 
my tongue about it.' To which Kendal heartily 

A few days afterwards the newspapers gave a 
prominent place to reports of Miss Bretherton's fare- 
well performance. It had been a great social event. 
Half the distinguished people in London were present, 
led by royalty. London, in fact, could hardly bear to 
part with its favourite, and compliments, flowers, and 
farewells showered upon her. Kendal, who had not 
meant to go at the time when tickets were to be had, 
tried about the middle of the week after the Oxford 
Sunday to get a seat, but found it utterly impossible. 
He might have managed it by applying to her through 
Edward Wallace, but that he was unwilling to do, for 
various reasons. He told himself that, after all, it was 
better to let her little note and his answer close his 
relations with her for the present. Everywhere else 
but in the theatre she might still regard him as her 
friend ; but there they could not but be antagonistic 
in some degree one to another, and not even intel- 
lectually did Kendal wish just now to meet her on 
a footing of antagonism. 

So, when Saturday night came, he passed the hours 
of Miss Bretherton's triumph at a Ministerial evening- 
party, where it seemed to him that the air was full of 
her name and that half the guests were there as a pis- 
alter, because the Calliope could not receive them. 
And yet he thought he noticed in the common talk 
about her that criticism of her as an actress was a good 
deal more general than it had been at the beginning 
of the season. The little knot of persons with an 
[ 336 ] 


opinion and reasons for it had gradually influenced 
the larger public. Nevertheless, there was no abate- 
ment whatever of the popular desire to see her, 
whether on the stage or in society. The engouement 
for her personally, for her beauty, and her fresh pure 
womanliness, showed no signs of yielding, and would 
hold out, Kendal thought, for some time, against a 
much stronger current of depreciation on the intel- 
lectual side than had as yet set in. 

He laid down the Monday paper with a smile of self- 
scorn and muttered : ' I should like to know how much 
she remembers by this time of the prig who lectured 
to her in Nuneham Woods a week ago ! ' In the evening 
his Pall Mall Gazette told him that Miss Bretherton 
had crossed the Channel that morning, en route for Paris 
and Venice. He fell to calculating the weeks which 
must elapse before his sister would be in Venice, and 
before he could hear of any meeting between her and . 
the Bretherton party, and wound up his calculations 
by deciding that London was already hot and would 
soon be empty, and that, as soon as he could gather 
together certain books he was in want of, he would 
carry them and his proofs down into Surrey, refuse 
all invitations to country-houses, and devote himself 
to his work. 

Before he left he paid a farewell call to Mrs. Stuart, 
who gave him full and enthusiastic accounts of Isabel 
Bretherton's last night, and informed him that her 
brother talked of following the Brethertons to Venice 
some time in August. 

'Albert/ she said, speaking of her husband, 'de- 
clares that he cannot get away for more than three 
[ 337 ] 


weeks, and that he must have some walking ; so that, 
what we propose at present is to pick up Edward at 
Venice at the end of August, and move up all together 
into the mountains afterwards. Oh, Mr. Kendal/ she 
went on a little nervously, as if not quite knowing 
whether to attack the subject or not, ' it was devoted 
of you to throw yourself into the breach for Edward as 
you did at Oxford. I am afraid it must have been very 
disagreeable, both to you and to her. When Edward 
told me of it next morning it made me cold to think of 
it. I made up my mind that our friendship yours 
and ours with her was over. But do you know she 
came to call on me that very afternoon how she 
made time I don't know but she did. Naturally, 
I was very uncomfortable, but she began to talk of it 
in the calmest way while we were having tea. "Mr. 
Kendal was probably quite right," she said, "in 
thinking the part unsuited to me; anyhow, I asked 
him for his opinion, and I should be a poor creature 
to mind his giving it." And then she laughed and said 
that I must ask Edward to keep his eyes open for 
anything that would do better for her in the autumn. 
And since then she has behaved as if she had forgotten 
all about it. I never knew any one with less smallness 
about her/ 

'No; she is a fine creature/ said Kendal, almost 
mechanically. How little Mrs. Stuart knew or 
rather, how entirely remote she was from feeling - 
what had happened ! It seemed to him that the emo- 
tion of that scene was still thrilling through all his 
pulses, yet to what ordinary little proportions had it 
been reduced in Mrs. Stuart's mind! He alone had 
[ 338 ] 


seen the veil lifted, had come close to the energetic 
reality of the girl's nature. That Isabel Bretherton 
could feel so, could look so, was known only to him 
the thought had pain in it, but the keenest pleasure 

'Do you know/ said Mrs. Stuart, presently, with a 
touch of reproach in her voice, 'that she asked for 
you on the last night?' 

'Did she ?' 

'Yes. We had just gone on to the stage to see her 
after the curtain had fallen. It was such a pretty 
sight you ought not to have missed it. The Prince had 
come to say good-bye to her, and, as we came in, she 
was just turning away in her long phantom dress with 
the white hood falling round her head, like that Rom- 
ney picture don't you remember? of Lady Ham- 
ilton Mr. Forbes has drawn her in it two or three 
times. The stage was full of people. Mr. Forbes was 
there, of course, and Edward, and ourselves, and 
presently I heard her say to Edward, "Is Mr. Kendal 
here? I did not see him in the house." Edward said 
something about your not having been able to get a 
seat, which I thought clumsy of him, for, of course, we 
could have got some sort of place for you at the last 
moment. She did n't say anything, but I thought if 
you won't mind my saying so, Mr. Kendal that, 
considering all things, it would have been better if 
you had been there.' 

' It seems to me,' said Kendal, with vexation in his 

voice, 'that there is a fate against my doing anything 

as I ought to do it. I thought, on the whole, it would 

be better not to make a fuss about it when it came to 

[ 339 ] 


the last. You see, she must look upon me to some 
extent as a critical, if not a hostile, influence, and I did 
not wish to remind her of my existence/ 

' Oh well/ said Mrs. Stuart, in her cheery, common- 
sense way, 'that evening was such an overwhelming 
experience that I don't suppose she could have felt 
any soreness towards anybody. And, do you know, 
she is improved? I don't quite know what it is, but 
certainly one or two of those long scenes she does 
more intelligently, and even the death-scene is better, 
less monotonous. I sometimes think she will sur- 
prise us all yet/ 

'Very likely/ said Kendal, absently, not in reality 
believing a word of it, but it was impossible to dissent. 

'I hope so/ exclaimed Mrs. Stuart, 'with all my 
heart. She has been very depressed often these last 
weeks, and certainly, on the whole, people have been 
harder upon her than they were at first. I am so glad 
that she and your sister will meet in Venice. Madame 
de Chateauvieux is just the friend she wants/ 

Kendal walked home feeling the rankling of a fresh 
pin-point. She had asked for him, and he had not been 
there! What must she think, apparently, but that, 
from a sour, morose consistency, he had refused to be 
a witness of her triumph ! 

Oh, hostile fates! 

A week later Eustace was settled in the Surrey 
farmhouse which had sheltered the Sunday League on 
its first expedition. The Surrey country was in its full 
glory : the first purple heather was fully out, and the 
distant hills rose blue and vaporous across stretches 
[ 340 ] 


of vivid crimson, broken here and there by the dim 
grey greens of the furze or the sharper colour of the 
bracken. The chorus of birds had died away, but the 
nests were not yet tenantless. The great sand-pit near 
the farmhouse was still vocal with innumerable broods 
of sand-martins, still enlivened by the constant skim- 
ming to and fro of the parent birds. And under Ken- 
dall sitting-room window a pair of tomtits, which 
the party had watched that May Sunday, were just 
launching their young family on the world. One of 
his first walks was to that spot beyond the pond where 
they had made their afternoon camping-ground. The 
nuthatches had fled fled, Kendal hoped, some time 
before, for the hand of the spoiler had been near their 
dwelling, and its fragments lay scattered on the 
ground. He presently learnt to notice that he never 
heard the sharp sound of the bird's tapping beak 
among the woods without a little start of recollection. 
Outside his walks, his days were spent in con- 
tinuous literary effort. His book was in a condition 
which called for all his energies, and he threw himself 
vigorously into it. The first weeks were taken up with 
a long review of Victor Hugo's prose and poetry ,_ with 
a view to a final critical result. It seemed to him that 
there was stuff in the great Frenchman to suit all 
weathers and all skies. There were sombre, wind-swept 
days, when the stretches of brown ling not yet in 
flower, the hurrying clouds, and the bending trees, were 
in harmony with all the fierce tempestuous side of the 
great Romantic. There were others when the homely, 
tender, domestic aspect of the country formed a sort 
of framework and accompaniment to the simpler patri- 
[ 341 ] 


archal elements in the books which Kendal had about 
him. Then, when the pages on Victor Hugo were 
written, those already printed on Chateaubriand be- 
gan to dissatisfy him, and he steeped himself once 
more in the rolling artificial harmonies, the mingled 
beauty and falsity of one of the most wonderful of 
styles, that he might draw from it its secrets and say 
a last just word about it. 

He knew a few families in the neighbourhood, but 
he kept away from them, and almost his only connex- 
ion with the outer world, during his first month in 
the country, was his correspondence with Madame de 
Chateau vieux, who was at Etretat with her husband. 
She wrote her brother very lively, characteristic 
accounts of the life there, filling her letters with 
amusing sketches of the political or artistic celebri- 
ties with whom the little Norman town swarms in the 

After the third or fourth letter, however, Kendal 
began to look restlessly at the Etretat postmark, to 
reflect that Marie had been there a long time, and to 
wonder she was not already tired of such a public sort 
of existence as the Etretat life. The bathing-scenes, 
and the fire-eating deputy, and the literary woman 
with a mission for the spread of naturalism, became 
very flat to him. He was astonished that his sister 
was not as anxious to start for Italy as he was to hear 
that she had done so. 

This temper of his was connected with the fact that 

after the first of August he began to develop a curious 

impatience on the subject of the daily post. At Old 

House Farm the post was taken as leisurely as every- 

[ 342 ] 


thing else ; there was no regular delivery, and Kendal 
generally was content to trust to the casual mercies of 
the butcher or baker for his letters. But, after the 
date mentioned, it occurred to him that his letters 
reached him with an abominable irregularity, and that 
it would do his work no harm, but, on the contrary, 
much good, if he took a daily constitutional in the 
direction of the post-office, which gave a touch of 
official dignity to the wasp-filled precincts of a grocer's 
shop in the village, some two miles off. 

For some considerable number of days, however, 
his walks only furnished him with food for reflexion 
on the common disproportion of means to ends in this 
life. His sister's persistence in sticking to the soil of 
France began to seem to him extraordinary ! However, 
at last, the monotony of the Etretat postmarks was 
broken by a postcard from Lyons. 'We are here for 
the night on some business of Paul's; to-morrow we 
hope to be at Turin, and two or three days later at 
Venice. By the way, where will the Brethertons be? 
I must trust to my native wits, I suppose, when I get 
there. She is not the sort of light to be hidden under 
a bushel.' 

This postcard disturbed Kendal not a little, and he 
felt irritably that somebody had mismanaged matters. 
He had supposed, and indeed suggested, that Miss 
Bretherton should enclose his note in one of her own 
to his sister's Paris address, giving, at the same time, 
some indication of a place of meeting in Venice. But 
if she had not done this, it was very possible that the 
two women might miss each other after all. Sometimes, 
when he had been contemplating this possibility with 
[ 343 1 


disgust, he would with a great effort make himself 
reflect why it was that he cared about the matter so 
disproportionately. Why was he so deeply interested 
in Isabel Bretherton's movements abroad, and in the 
meeting which would bring her, so to speak, once more 
into his own world? Why ! because it was impossible, 
he would answer himself indignantly, not to feel a 
profound interest in any woman who had ever shared 
as much emotion with you as she had with him in 
those moments at Nuneham, who had received a wound 
at your hands, had winced under it, and still had re- 
mained gracious, and kind, and womanly! 'I should 
be a hard-hearted brute,' he said to himself, 'if I did 
not feel a very deep and peculiar interest in her if 
I did not desire that Marie's friendship should abund- 
antly make up to her for my blundering ! ' 

Did he ever really deceive himself into imagining 
that this was all? It is difficult to say. The mind of a 
man no longer young, and trained in all the subtleties 
of thought, does not deal with an invading sentiment 
exactly as a youth would do with all his experience to 
come. It steals upon him more slowly, he is capable 
of disguising it to himself longer, of escaping from it 
into other interests. Passion is in its ultimate essence 
the same, wherever it appears and under whatever 
conditions, but it possesses itself of human life in 
different ways. Slowly, and certainly, the old primeval 
fire, the commonest, fatallest, divinest force of life, 
was making its way into Kendal's nature. But it was 
making its way against antagonistic forces of habit, 
tradition, self-restraint; it found a hundred other 
interests in possession; it had a strange impersonal- 
[ 344 ] 


ity and timidity of nature to fight with. Kendal had 
been accustomed to live in other men's lives. Was he 
only just beginning to live his own? 

But, however it was, he was at least conscious during 
this waiting time that life was full of some hidden 
savour; that his thoughts were never idle, never 
vacant; that, as he lay flat among the fern in his 
moments of rest, following the march of the clouds as 
they sailed divinely over the rich breadth and colour of 
the commons, a whole brood of images nestled at his 
heart, or seemed to hover in the sunny air before him, 
-visions of a slender form fashioned with Greek 
suppleness and majesty, of a soft and radiant presence, 
of looks all womanliness, and gestures all grace, of 
a smile like no other he had ever seen for charm, of a 
quick impulsive gait ! He followed that figure through 
scene after scene; he saw primroses in its hand, and 
the pale spring blue above it ; he recalled it standing 
tense and still with blanched cheek and fixed appealing 
eye, while all round the June woods murmured in the 
breeze ; he surrounded it in imagination with the pomp 
and circumstance of the stage, and realised it as a centre 
of emotion to thousands. And then from memories he 
would pass on to speculations, from the scenes he knew 
to those he could only guess at, from the life of which 
he had seen a little to the larger and unexplored life 

And so the days went on, and though he was im- 
patient and restless, yet indoors his work was con- 
genial to him, and out of doors the sun was bright, 
and all the while a certain little god lay hidden, 
speaking no articulate word, but waiting with a 
[ 345 ] 


mischievous patience for the final overthrow of one 
more poor mortal. 

At last the old postmistress, whom he had almost 
come to regard as cherishing a personal grudge against 
him, ceased to repulse him, and, after his seven years 
of famine, the years of abundance set in. For the space 
of three weeks letters from Venice lay waiting for him 
almost every alternate morning, and the heathery 
slopes between the farm and the village grew familiar 
with the spectacle of a tall thin man in a rough tweed 
suit struggling, as he walked, with sheets of foreign 
paper which the wind was doing its best to filch away 
from him. 

The following extracts from these letters contain 
such portions of them as are necessary to our subject : 

VENICE, August 6. 

MY DEAR EUSTACE, I can only write you a v 
scrappy letter to-day, for we are just settling into our 
apartment, and the rooms are strewn in the most dis- 
tracting way with boxes, books, and garments ; while 
my maid, FSlicie, and the old Italian woman, Caterina, 
who is to cook and manage for us, seem to be able to 
do nothing not even to put a chair straight, or order 
some bread to keep us from starving without con- 
sulting me. Paul, taking advantage of a husband's 
prerogative, has gone off to flaner on the Piazza, while 
his women-folk make life tolerable at home ; which is a 
very unfair and spiteful version of his proceedings, for 
he has really gone as much on my business as on his 
own. I sent him feeling his look of misery, as he sat 
[ 346 ] 



on a packing-case in the middle of this chaos, terribly 
on my mind to see if he could find the English con- 
sul (whom he knows a little), and discover from him, if 
possible, where your friends are. It is strange, as you 
say, that Miss Bretherton should not have written to 
me ; but I incline to put it down to our old Jacques at 
home, who is getting more and more imbecile with the 
weight of years and infirmities, and is quite capable of 
forwarding to us all the letters which are not worth 
posting, and leaving all the important ones piled up in 
the hall to await our return. It is provoking, for, if 
the Bretherton party are not going to stay long in 
Venice, we may easily spend all our time in looking for 
each other ; which will, indeed, be a lame and impotent 
conclusion. However, I have hopes of Paul's clever- 

And now, four o'clock! There is no help for it, my 
dear Eustace. I must go and instruct Caterina how not 
to poison us in our dinner to-night. She looks a dear 
old soul, but totally innocent of anything but Italian 
barbarities in the way of cooking. And Felicie also is 
well-meaning but ignorant, so, unless I wish to have 
Paul on my hands for a week, I must be off. This rough 
picnicking life, in Venice of all places, is a curious little 
experience ; but I made up my mind last time we were 
here that we would venture our precious selves in no 
more hotels. The heat, the mosquitoes, the horrors of 
the food, were too much. Here we have a garden, a 
kitchen, a cool sitting-room; and if I choose to feed 
Paul on tisane and milk-puddings, who is to prevent 

. . . Paul has just come in, with victory written 
[ 347 ] 


on his brow. The English consul was of no use ; but, as 
he was strolling home, he went into St. Mark's, and 
there, of course, found them! In the church were 
apparently all the English people who have as yet 
ventured to Venice ; and these, or most of them, seemed 
to be following in the wake of a little party of four 
persons two ladies, a gentleman, and a lame girl 
walking with a crutch. An excited English tourist 
condescended to inform Paul that it was "the great 
English actress, Miss Bretherton," who was creating 
all the commotion. Then, of course, he went up to 
her he was provoked that he could hardly see her 
in the dim light of St. Mark's introduced himself, 
and described our perplexities. Of course, she had 
written. I expected as much. Jacques must certainly 
be pensioned off ! Paul thought the other three very 
inferior to her, though the uncle was civil, and talk 
condescendingly of Venice as though it were even g 
enough to be admired by a Worrall. It is arranged 
that the beauty is to come and see me to-morrow if, 
after Caterina has operated upon us during two meals, 
we are still alive. Good-night, and good-bye. 

VENICE, August 7. 

Well, I have seen her! It has been a blazing day. 
I was sitting in the little garden which separates one 
half of our rooms from the other, while Caterina was 
arranging the dejeuner under the little acacia arbour in 
the centre of it. Suddenly Micie came out from the 
house, and behind her a tall figure in a large hat and 
a white dress. The figure held out both hands to me 
in a cordial, un-English way, and said a number of 
[ 348 ] 


pleasant things, rapidly, in a delicious voice ; while I, 
with the dazzle of the sun in my eyes so that I could 
hardly make out the features, stood feeling a little 
thrilled by the advent of so famous a person. In a few 
moments, however, as it seemed to me, we were sitting 
under the acacias, she was helping me to cut up the 
melon and arrange the figs, as if we had known one 
another for months, and I was experiencing one of 
those sudden rushes of liking which, as you know, are a 
weakness of mine. She stayed and took her meal with 
us. Paul, of course, was fascinated, and for once has 
not set her down as a reputation surfaite. 

Her beauty has a curious air of the place ; and now 
I remember that her mother was Italian Venetian 
actually, was it not? That accounts for it; she is the 
Venetian type spiritualised. At the foundation of her 
face, as it were, lies the face of the Burano lacemaker ; 
only the original type has been so refined, so chiselled 
and smoothed away, that, to speak fancifully, only 
a beautiful ghost of it remains. That large stateli- 
ness of her movement, too, is Italian. You may see 
it in any Venetian street, and Veronese has fixed it 
in art. 

While we were sitting in the garden who should be 
announced but Edward Wallace? I knew, of course, 
from you that he might be here about this time, but in 
the hurry of our settling in I had quite forgotten his 
existence, so that the sight of his trim person bearing 
down upon us was a surprise. He and the Bretherton 
party, however, had been going about together for 
several days, so that he and she had plenty of gossip in 
common. Miss Bretherton's enthusiasm about Venice 
[ 349 ] 


is of a very naive, hot, outspoken kind. It seems to me 
that she is a very susceptible creature. She lives her 
life fast, and crowds into it a greater number of sensa- 
tions than most people. All this zest and pleasure must 
consume a vast amount of nervous force, but it makes 
her very refreshing to people as blase as Paul and I are. 
My first feeling about her is very much what yours was. 
Personally, there seems to be all the stuff in her of 
which an actress is made; will she some day stumble 
upon the discovery of how to bring her own individual 
flame and force to bear upon her art? I should think 
it not unlikely, and, altogether, I feel as though I 
should take a more hopeful view of her intellectually, 
than you do. You see, my dear Eustace, you men 
never realise how clever we women are, how fast we 
learn, and how quickly we catch up hints from all 
quarters under heaven and improve upon them. An 
actress so young and so sympathetic as Isabel Brether- 
ton must still be very much of an unknown quantity 
dramatically. I know you think that the want of 
training is fatal, and that popularity will stereotype 
her faults. It may be so; but I am inclined to think, 
from my first sight of her, that she is a nature that 
will gather from life rather what stimulates it than 
what dulls and vulgarises it. Altogether, when I com- 
pare my first impressions of her with the image of her 
left by your letters, I feel that I have been pleasantly 
surprised. Only in the matter of intelligence. Other- 
wise it has, of course, been your descriptions of her that 
have planted and nurtured in me that strong sense of 
attraction which blossomed into liking at the moment 
of personal contact. 

[ 350 ] 


August 10. 

This afternoon we have been out in the gondola 
belonging to this modest establishment, with our 
magnificent gondolier, Piero, and his boy to convey us 
to the Lido. I got Miss Bretherton to talk to me about 
her Jamaica career. She made us all laugh with her 
accounts of the blood-and-thunder pieces in which the 
audiences at the Kingston theatre revelled. She seems 
generally to have played the Bandit's Daughter, the 
Smuggler's Wife, or the European damsel carried off 
by Indians, or some other thrilling elemental person- 
age of the kind. The White Lady was, apparently, her 
first introduction to a more complicated order of play. 
It is extraordinary, when one comes to think of it, how 
little positive dramatic knowledge she must have ! She 
knows some Shakespeare, I think, at least, she men- 
tions two or three plays, and I gather from some- 
thing she said that she is now making the inevitable 
study of Juliet that every actress makes sooner or 
later ; but Sheridan, Goldsmith, and, of course, all the 
French people, are mere names to her. When I think 
of the minute exhaustive training our Paris actors go 
through, and compare it with such a state of nature 
as hers, I am amazed at what she has done ! For, after 
all, you know, she must be able to act to some extent ; 
she must know a great deal more of her business than 
you and I suspect, or she could not get on at all. 

August 16. 

It is almost a week, I see, since I wrote to you last. 
During that time we have seen a great deal more 
of Miss Bretherton, sometimes in company with her 


belongings, sometimes without them, and my impres- 
sions of her have ripened very fast. Oh, my dear 
Eustace, you have been hasty, all the world has 
been hasty ! Isabel Bretherton's real self is only now 
coming to the front, and it is a self which, as I say to 
myself with astonishment, not even your keen eyes 
have ever seen hardly suspected even. Should I, 
myself a woman, have been as blind to a woman's 
capabilities, I wonder? Very likely! These sudden 
rich developments of youth are often beyond all cal- 

Mr. Wallace's attitude makes me realise more than 
I otherwise could the past and present condition of 
things. He comes and talks to me with amazement 
of the changes in her tone and outlook, of the girl's 
sharpening intellect and growing sensitiveness, and as 
he recalls incidents and traits of the London season 
confessions or judgements or blunders of hers, and puts 
them beside the impression which he sees her to be 
making on Paul and myself I begin to understand 
from his talk and his bewilderment something of the 
real nature of the case. Intellectually, it has been 
"the ugly duckling" over again. Under all the crude, 
unfledged imperfection of her young performance, 
you people, who have watched her with your trained, 
critical eyes, seem to me never to have suspected the 
coming wings, the strange, nascent power, which is 
only now asserting itself in the light of day. 

'What has Eustace been about?' said Paul to me 

last night, after we had all returned from rambling 

round and round the moonlit Piazza, and he had been 

describing to me his talk with her. ' He ought to have 

[ 858 ]. 


seen farther ahead. That creature is only just begin- 
ning to live and it will be a life worth having ! He 
has kindled it, too, as much as anybody. Of course 
we have not seen her act yet, and ignorant yes, 
she is certainly ignorant though not so much as 
I imagined. But as for natural power and deli- 
cacy of mind, there can be no question at all about 

'I don't know that Eustace did question them/ I 
said; 'he thought simply that she had no conception 
of what her art really required of her, and never would 
have because of her popularity/ 

To which Paul replied that, as far as he could make 
out, nobody thought more meanly of her popularity 
than she did, and he has been talking a great deal to 
her about her season. 

' I never saw a woman at a more critical or interest- 
ing point of development/ he exclaimed at last, strid- 
ing up and down, and so absorbed in the subject that 
I could have almost laughed at his eagerness. ' Some- 
thing or other, luckily for her, set her on the right 
track three months ago, and it is apparently a nature 
on which nothing is lost. One can see it in the way in 
which she takes Venice : there is n't a scrap of her 
little as she knows about it that is n't keen and 
interested and wide-awake!' 

'Well, after all/ I reminded him as he was settling 
down to his books, 'we know nothing about her as an 

'We shall see/ he said; 'I will find out something 
about that too before long. ' 

[ 353 ] 


August 17-19. 

And so he has ! 

Paul has been devoting himself more and more to 
the beauty, Mr. Wallace and I looking on with con- 
siderable amusement and interest ; and this afternoon, 
finding it intolerable that Miss Bretherton has not even 
a bowing acquaintance with any of his favourite plays, 
Augier, Dumas, Victor Hugo, or anything else, he has 
been reading aloud to us in the garden, running on from 
scene to scene and speech to speech, translating as he 
went she in rapt attention, and he gesticulating and 
spouting, and, except for an occasional queer rendering 
that made us laugh, getting on capitally with his Eng- 
lish. She was enchanted; the novelty and the excite- 
ment of it absorbed her; and every now and then she 
would stop Paul with a little imperious wave of her 
hand, and repeat the substance of a speech after him 
with an impetuous elan, an energy, a comprehension, 
which drew little nods of satisfaction out of him, and 
sometimes produced a strong and startling effect upon 
myself and Mr. Wallace. However, Mr. Wallace might 
stare as he liked ; the two people concerned were totally 
unconscious of the rest of us, until at last, after the 
great death-scene in the Nuit Blanche, Paul threw 
down the book almost with a sob, and she, rising in 
a burst of feeling, held out her white arms towards an 
imaginary lover, and with extraordinary skill and 
memory repeated the substance of the heroine's last 
speeches : 

' Achille, beloved ! my eyes are dim the mists of 
death are gathering. Achille I the white cottage by the 
river the nest in the reeds your face and mine in the 
[ 354 ] 


water the blue heaven below us in the stream joy, 
quick ! those hands, those lips ! But listen, listen ! it is 
the cruel wind rising, rising : it chills me to the bone, it 
chokes, it stifles me ! I cannot see the river, and the 
cottage is gone, and the sun. Achille, it is dark, so 
dark ! Gather me close, beloved ! closer, closer ! 
death is kind tender, like your touch ! I have no fears 
none !' 

She sank back into her chair. Anything more 
pathetic, more noble than her intonation of those 
words, could not have been imagined. Desforets her- 
self could not have spoken them with a more simple, 
a more piercing tenderness. I was so confused by a 
multitude of conflicting feelings my own impres- 
sions and yours, the realities of the present position 
and the possibilities of her future that I forgot to 
applaud her. It was the first time I had had any 
glimpse at all of her dramatic power, and, rough and 
imperfect as the test was, it seemed to me enough. I 
have not been so devoted to the Franqais, and to some 
of the people connected with it, for ten years, for 
nothing! One gets a kind of insight from long habit 
which, I think, one may trust. Oh, you blind Eustace, 
how could you forget that for a creature so full of 
primitive energy, so rich in the stuff of life, nothing 
is irreparable ! Education has passed her by. Well, 
she will go to find her education. She will make a 
teacher out of every friend, out of every sensation. 
Incident and feeling, praise and dispraise, will all alike 
tend to mould the sensitive plastic material into shape. 
So far she may have remained outside her art; the 
art, no doubt, has been a conventional appendage, and 
[ 355 ] 


little more. Training would have given her good con- 
ventions, whereas she has only picked up bad and 
imperfect ones. But no training could have given her 
what she will evidently soon develop for herself, that 
force and flame of imagination which fuses together 
instrument and idea in one great artistic whole. She 
has that imagination. You can see it in her responsive 
ways, her quick sensitive emotion. Only let it be 
roused and guided to a certain height, and it will over- 
leap the barriers which have hemmed it in, and pour 
itself into the channels made ready for it by her art. 

There, at least, you have my strong impression. It 
is, in many ways, at variance with some of my most 
cherished principles; for both you and I are perhaps 
inclined to overrate the value of education, whether 
technical or general, in its effect on the individuality. 
And, of course, a better technical preparation would 
have saved Isabel Bretherton an immense amount 
of time ; would have prevented her from contracting 
a host of bad habits all of which she will have to 
unlearn. But the root of the matter is in her; of that 
I am sure ; and whatever weight of hostile circumstance 
may be against her, she will, if she keeps her health, 
as to which I am sometimes, like you, a little anx- 
ious, break through it all and triumph. 

But if you did not understand her quite, you have 
enormously helped her ; so much I will tell you for your 
comfort. She said to me yesterday abruptly we 
were alone in our gondola, far out on the lagoon - 
' Did your brother ever tell you of a conversation he 
and I had in the woods at Nuneham about Mr. Wal- 
lace's play?' 

[ 356 ] 


'Yes/ I answered, with outward boldness, but a 
little inward trepidation ; ' I have not known anything 
distress him so much for a long time. He thought you 
had misunderstood him/ 

'No/ she said, quietly, but as it seemed to me with 
an undercurrent of emotion in her voice ; ' I did not 
misunderstand him. He meant what he said, and I 
would have forced the truth from him, whatever 
happened. I was determined to make him show me 
what he felt. That London season was sometimes 
terrible to me. I seemed to myself to be living in two 
worlds one a world in which there was always a sea 
of faces opposite to me, or crowds about me, and a 
praise ringing in my ears which was enough to turn 
anybody's head, but which after a while repelled me as 
if there was something humiliating in it ; and then, on 
the other side, a little inner world of people I cared for 
and respected, who looked at me kindly, and thought 
for me, but to whom as an actress I was just of no ac- 
count at all ! It was your brother who first roused that 
sense in me; it was so strange and painful, for how 
could I help at first believing in all the hubbub and the 

'Poor child !' I said, reaching out my hand for hers. 
'Did Eustace make himself disagreeable to you?' 

'It was more, I think/ she answered, as if reflect- 
ing, 'the standard he always seemed to carry about 
with him than anything connected with my own work. 
At least, of course, I mean before that Nuneham day. 
Ah, that Nuneham day ! It cut deep/ 

She turned away from me, and leant over the side 
of the boat, so that I could not see her face. 
[ 357 ] 


'You forced it out of Eustace, you know/ I said, 
trying to laugh at her, 'you uncompromising young 
person ! Of course, he flattered himself that you forgot 
all about his preaching the moment you got home. 
Men always make themselves believe what they want 
to believe/ 

'Why should he want to believe so?' she replied, 
quickly. ' I had half -foreseen it, I had forced it from 
him, and yet I felt it like a blow ! It cost me a sleep- 
less night, and some well, some very bitter tears. 
Not that the tears were a new experience. How often, 
after all that noise at the theatre, have I gone home 
and cried myself to sleep over the impossibility of 
doing what I wanted to do, of moving those hundreds 
of people, of making them feel, and of putting my own 
feeling into shape ! But that night, and with my sense 
of illness just then, I saw myself it seemed to me 
quite in the near future grown old and ugly, a for- 
gotten failure, without any of those memories which 
console people who have been great when they must 
give up. I felt myself struggling against such a weight 
of ignorance, of bad habits, of unfavourable surround- 
ings. How was I ever to get free and to reverse that 
judgement of Mr. Kendal's? My very success stood in 
my way, How was "Miss Bretherton" to put herself 
to school?' 

'But now/ I said to her warmly, 'you have got 
free; or, rather, you are on the way to freedom.' 

She thought a little bit without speaking, her chin 

resting on her hand, her elbow on her knee. We were 

passing the great red-brown mass of the Armenian 

convent. She seemed to be drinking in the dazzling 

[ 358 ] 


harmonies of blue and warm brown and pearly light. 
When she did speak again it was very slowly, as though 
she were trying to give words to a number of complex 

'Yes/ she said; 'it seems to me that I am differ- 
ent ; but I can't tell exactly how or why. I see all sorts 
of new possibilities, new meanings everywhere: that 
is one half of it ! But the other, and the greater, half 
is how to make all these new feelings and any new 
knowledge which may come to me tell on my art/ 
And then she changed altogether with one of those 
delightful swift transformations of hers, and her face 
rippled over with laughter. 'At present the chief 
result of the difference, whatever it may be, seems to 
be to make me most unmanageable at home. I am for 
ever disagreeing with my people, saying I can't do 
this and I won't do that. I am getting to enjoy having 
my own way in the most abominable manner/ And 
then she caught my hand, that was holding hers, be- 
tween both her own, and said half -laughing and half in 

' Did you ever realise that I don't know any sin- 
gle language besides my own not even French? 
That I can't read any French book or any French 

'Well/ I said, half -laughing too, 'it is very aston- 
ishing. And you know it can't go on if you are to do 
what I think you will do. French you positively must 
learn, and learn quickly. I don't mean to say that 
we have n't good plays and a tradition of our own ; but 
for the moment France is the centre of your art, and 
you cannot remain at a distance from it ! The French 
[ 359 ] 


have organised their knowledge ; it is available for all 
who come. Ours is still floating and amateurish - 

And so on. You may imagine it, my dear Eustace ; 
I spare you any more of it verbatim. After I had 
talked away for a long time and brought it all back to 
the absolute necessity that she should know French 
and become acquainted with French acting and French 
dramatic ideals, she pulled me up in the full career 
of eloquence, by demanding with a little practical air, 
a twinkle lurking somewhere in her eyes 

'Explain to me, please; how is it to be done?' 

'Oh/ I said, 'nothing is easier. Do you know 
anything at all?' 

'Very little. I once had a term's lessons at Kings- 

'Very well, then,' I went on, enjoying this little 
comedy of a neglected education ; 'get a French maid, 
a French master, and a novel : I will provide you with 
Consuelo and a translation to-morrow.' 

'As for the French maid,' she answered, dubiously, 
shaking her head, 'I don't know. I expect my old 
black woman that I brought with me from Jamaica 
would ill-treat her perhaps murder her. But the 
master can be managed and the novel. "Will none of 
you laugh at me if you see me trailing a French gram- 
mar about?' 

And so she has actually begun to-day. She makes 
a pretence of keeping her novel and a little dictionary 
and grammar in a bag, and hides them when any one 
appears. But Paul has already begun to tease her 
about her new and mysterious occupation, and I fore- 
see that he will presently spend the greater part of his 
[ 360 ] 


mornings in teaching her. I never saw anybody attract 
him so much ; she is absolutely different from anything 
he has seen before; and, as he says, the mixture of 
ignorance and genius in her yes, genius; don't be 
startled ! is most stimulating to the imagination. 

August 22. 

During the last few days I have not been seeing so 
much of Miss Bretherton as before. She has been 
devoting herself to her family, and Paul and I have 
been doing our pictures. We cannot persuade her to 
take any very large dose of galleries ; it seems to me 
that her thoughts are set on one subject and one 
subject only and while she is in this first stage of 
intensity, it is not likely that anything else will have 
a chance. 

It is amusing to study the dissatisfaction of the 
uncle and aunt with the turn things have taken since 
they left London. Mr. Worrall has been evidently 
accustomed to direct his niece's life from top to bottom 
- to choose her plays for her, helped by Mr. Robinson ; 
to advise her as to her fellow-actors, and her behaviour 
in society ; and all, of course, with a shrewd eye to the 
family profit, and as little regard as need be to any 
fantastical conception of art. 

Now, however, Isabel has asserted herself in several 
unexpected ways. She has refused altogether to open 
her autumn season with the play which had been 
nearly decided on before they left London a flimsy 
spectacular performance quite unworthy of her. As 
soon as possible she will make important changes in 
the troupe who are to be with her, and at the beginning 


of September she is coming to stay three weeks with us 
in Paris, and, in all probability (though the world is to 
know nothing of it) , Perrault of the Conservatoire, who 
is a great friend of ours, will give her a good deal of 
positive teaching. This last arrangement is particularly 
exasperating to Mr. Worrall. He regards it as sure to 
be known, a ridiculous confession of weakness on 
Isabel's part, and so on. However, in spite of his wrath 
and the aunt's sullen or tearful disapproval, she has 
stood firm, and matters are so arranged. 

Saturday night, August 25. 

This evening we persuaded her at last to give us 
some scenes of Juliet. How I wish you could have been 
here! It was one of those experiences which remain 
with one as a sort of perpetual witness to the poetry 
which life holds in it, and may yield up to one at any 
moment. It was in our little garden; the moon was 
high above the houses opposite, and the narrow canal 
running past our side railing into the Grand Canal was 
a shining streak of silver. The air was balmy and ab- 
solutely still ; no more perfect setting to Shakespeare 
or to Juliet could have been imagined. Paul sat at 
a little table in front of the rest of us ; he was to read 
Romeo and the Nurse in the scenes she had chosen, 
while in the background were the Worralls and Lucy 
Bretherton (the little crippled sister), Mr. Wallace, 
and myself. She did the balcony scene, the morning 
scene with Romeo, the scene with the Nurse after 
Tybalt's death, and the scene of the philtre. There is 
an old sundial in the garden, which caught the moon- 
beams. She leaned her arms upon it, her eyes fixed 
[ 362 ] 


upon the throbbing moonlit sky, her white brocaded 
dress glistening here and there in the pale light a 
vision of perfect beauty. And when she began her 
sighing appeal 

'0 Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?' 

it seemed to me as if the night the passionate 
Italian night had found its voice the only voice 
which fitted it. 

Afterwards I tried as much as possible to shake off 
the impressions peculiar to the scene itself, to think of 
her under the ordinary conditions of the stage, to judge 
her purely as an actress. In the love-scenes there 
seemed hardly anything to find fault with. I thought 
I could trace in many places the influence of her con- 
stant dramatic talks and exercises with Paul. The 
flow of passion was continuous and electric, but 
marked by all the simpleness, all the sweetness, all the 
young winsome extravagance which belong to Juliet. 
The great scene with the Nurse had many fine things 
in it ; she has evidently worked hard at it line by line, 
and that speech of Juliet's, with its extraordinary 
dramatic capabilities - 

1 Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband' 

was given with admirable variety and suppleness of 
intonation. The dreary sweetness of her 

'Banished! that one word banished!' 
still lives with me, and her gestures as she paced rest- 
lessly along the little strip of moonlit path. The 
speech before she takes the potion was the least satis- 
factory of all ; the ghastliness and horror of it are be- 
yond her resources as yet; she could not infuse them 
[ 363 ] 


with that terrible beauty which Desforets would have 
given to every line. But where is the English actress 
that has ever yet succeeded in it? 
We were all silent for a minute after her great cry - 

'Romeo, Romeo, Romeo, I drink to thee!' 

had died upon our ears. And then, while we applauded 
her, she came forward listlessly, her beautiful head 
drooping, and approached Paul like a child that has 
said its lesson badly. 

'I can't do it, that speech; I can't do it!' 

'It wants more work/ said Paul; 'you'll get it. 
But the rest was admirable. You must have worked 
very hard ! ' 

'So I have/ she said, brightening at the warmth 
of his praise. ' But Diderot is wrong, wrong, wrong 
When I could once reach the feeling of the Tybalt 
speech, when I could once hate him for killing Tybalt 
in the same breath in which I loved him for being 
Romeo, all was easy ; gesture and movement came to 
me ; I learnt them, and the thing was done/ 

The reference, of course, meant that Paul had been 
reading to her his favourite Paradoxe sur le Comedien, 
and that she had been stimulated, but not converted, 
by the famous contention that the actor should be the 
mere 'cold and tranquil spectator/ the imitator of 
other men's feelings, while possessing none of his own. 
He naturally would have argued, but I would not have 
it, and made her rest. She was quite worn out with 
the effort, and I do not like this excessive fatigue of 
hers. I often wonder whether the life she is leading is 
not too exciting for her. This is supposed to be her 
[ 364 ] 


holiday, and she is really going through more brain- 
waste than she has ever done in her life before ! Paul 
is throwing his whole energies into one thing only, the 
training of Miss Bretherton ; and he is a man of forty- 
eight, with an immense experience, and she a girl of 
twenty-one, with everything to learn, and as easily 
excited as he is capable of exciting her. I really must 
keep him in check. 

Mr. Wallace, when we had sent her home across the 
canal their apartment is on the other side, farther 
up towards the railway station could not say enough 
to me of his amazement at the change in her. 

'What have you done to her?' he asked. 'I can 
hardly recognise the old Miss Bretherton at all. Is 
it really not yet four months since your brother and 
I went to see her in the White Lady ? Why, you have 
bewitched her!' 

'We have done something, I admit/ I said; 'but 
the power you see developed in her now was roused in 
her when months ago she first came in contact with the 
new world and the new ideal which you and Eustace 
represented to her/ 

There, my dear Eustace, have I given you your 
due? Oh, Miss Bretherton says so many kind things 
about you ! I '11 take especial pains to tell you some of 
them next time I write. 


VENICE, August 27. 

MY DEAR KENDAL, This has been a day of events 
which, I believe, will interest you as much as they did 
me. I told Madame de Chateauvieux that I should 
[ 365 ] 


write to you to-night, and my letter, she says, must do 
in place of one from her for a day or two. We have 
been to Torcello to-day your sister, M. de Chateau- 
vieux, Miss Bretherton, and I. The expedition itself 
was delightful, but that I have no time to describe. I 
only want to tell you what happened when we got to 

But first, you will, of course, know from your sis- 
ter's letters she tells me she writes to you twice a 
week how absorbed we have all been in the artistic 
progress of Miss Bretherton. I myself never saw such 
a change, such an extraordinary development in any 
one. How was it that you and I did not see farther 
into her? I see now, as I look back upon her old self, 
that the new self was there in germ. But I think per- 
haps it may have been the vast disproportion of her 
celebrity to her performance that blinded us to the 
promise in her; it was irritation with the public that 
made us deliver an over-hasty verdict on her. 

However that may be, I have been making up my 
mind for some days past that the embassy on behalf of 
Elvira which I thrust upon you, and which you so gen- 
erously undertook, was a blunder on my part which 
it would be delightful to repair, and which no artistic 
considerations whatever need prevent me from repair- 
ing. You cannot think how divine she was in Juliet 
the other night. Imperfect and harsh, of course, here 
and there, but still a creature to build many and great 
hopes upon, if ever there was one. She is shaking off 
trick after trick; your brother-in-law is merciless to 
them whenever they appear, and she is for ever work- 
ing with a view to his approval, and also, I think, from 
[ 366 ] 


two or three things she has said, with a memory of that 
distant standard of criticism which she believes to be 
embodied in you! 

M. de Chateauvieux has devoted himself to her ; it 
is a pretty sight to see them together. Your sister and 
she, too, are inseparable, and Madame de Chateau- 
vieux's quiet, equable refinement makes a good con- 
trast to Miss Bretherton's mobility. She will never lose 
the imprint of her friendship with these two people ; it 
was a happy thought which led you to bring them 

Well, we went to Torcello, and I watched for an 
opportunity of getting her alone. At last Madame de 
Chateauvieux gave me one; she carried off her hus- 
band, Ruskin in hand, to study the mosaics, and Miss 
Bretherton and I were left sitting under the outer wall 
of San Fosca till they should come back. We had been 
talking of a hundred things not of acting at all ; of 
the pomegranates, of which she had a scarlet mass in 
her lap, of the grey slumberous warmth of the day, or 
the ragged children who pestered us for coppers and 
then suddenly, I asked her whether she would answer 
me a personal question : Was there any grudge in her 
mind towards me for anything I had said and done in 
London, or caused others to say and do for me? 

She was much startled, and coloured a good deal, 
but she said very steadily : ' I feel no sort of grudge ; 
I never had any cause/ 'Well, then/ I went on, 
throwing myself down on the grass before her that I 
might really see her expression, 'if you bear me no 
grudge, if you feel kindly towards me, will you help 
me to undo a great mistake of mine?' 
[ 367 ] 


She looked at me with parted lips and eyes which 
seemed to be trying to find out from my face what 
I meant. 'Will you/ I said, hurrying on; 'will you 
take from me Elvira, and do what you like with it?' 
And then, do you know what happened? Her lips 
quivered, and I thought she was on the point of tears, 
but suddenly the nervousness of each of us seemed to 
strike the other, and we both laughed she long and 
helplessly, as if she could not help herself. 

Presently she looked up, with her great eyes swim- 
ming in tears, and tried to impress on me that I was 
speaking hastily, that I had an ideal for that play she 
could never promise to reach, that it was my friend- 
ship for her that made me change my mind, that there 
might be practical difficulties now that so many ar- 
rangements had been made, and so on. But I would 
not listen to her. I had it all ready ; I had an actor to 
propose to her for Macias, and even the costumes in 
my mind, ready to sketch for her, if need were. Forbes, 
I suggested, might and would direct the setting of the 
piece ; no one could do it with more perfect knowledge 
or a more exquisite taste; and for her, as we both 
knew, he would turn scene-painter, if necessary. And 
so I rambled on, soothing her shaken feeling and my 
own until she had let me beguile her out of her attitude 
of reluctance and shrinking into one at least of common 

But by the time the others came back I had not got 
a direct consent out of her, and all the way home she 
was very silent. I, of course, got anxious, and began to 
think that my blunder had been irreparable ; but, at 
any rate, I was determined not to let the thing linger 
[ 368 ] 


on. So that, when the Chateauvieux asked me to stay 
and sup with them and her, I supped, and afterwards 
in the garden boldly brought it out before them all, and 
appealed to your sister for help. I knew that both she 
and her husband were acquainted with what had hap- 
pened at Oxford, and I supposed that Miss Bretherton 
would know that they were, so that it was awkward 
enough. Only that women, when they please, have 
such tact, such an art of smoothing over and ignoring 
the rough places of life, that one often with them gets 
through a difficult thing without realising how difficult 
it is. M. de Chateauvieux smoked a long time and said 
nothing, then he asked me a great many questions 
about the play, and finally gave no opinion. I was 
almost in despair she said so little until, just as I 
was going away with Elvira's fate still quite unsettled, 
she said to me with a smile and a warm pressure of the 
hand, ' To-morrow come and see me, and I will tell you 
yes or no!' 

And to-day I have been to see her, and the night 
has brought good luck ! For Elvira, my dear Kendal, 
will be produced on or about the 20th November, in 
this year of grace, and Isabel Bretherton will play the 
heroine, and your friend is already plunged in business, 
and aglow with hope and expectation. How I wish - 
how we all wish that you were here ! I feel more and 
more penitent towards you. It was you who gave the 
impulse of which the results are ripening, and you 
ought to be here with us now, playing in the body that 
friend's part which we all yield you so readily in spirit. 
'Tell Mr. Kendal/ were almost her last words to me, 
' that I cannot say how much I owe to his influence and 
[ 369 ] 


his friendship. He first opened my eyes to so many 
things. He was so kind to me, even when he thought 
least of me. I hope I shall win a word of praise from 
him yet!' There! I trust that will rouse a little 
pleasant conceit in you. She meant it, and it is true. 
I must go off and work at many things. To-morrow or 
next day, after some further talk with her, I shall set off 
homewards, look up Forbes and begin operations. She 
will be in town in about three weeks from now as 
you know she is going to stay first with your sister in 
Paris and then we shall have hard work till about 
the middle of November, when I suppose the play will 
be produced. This will be more than a fortnight later 
than she intended to open, and Mr. Worrall will prob- 
ably be furious over the delay, but she has developed 
a will of her own lately. 

Au revoir, then. You must have had a peaceful 
.summer with your books and your heather. I wish I 
had anything like the same digestion for work that you 
have; I never saw a man get as much pleasure out of 
his books as you do. To me, I confess, that work is 
always work, and idleness a joy ! 

However, no more idleness for me for a good while 
to come. How grand she will be in that last act ! - 
Where were my eyes last spring? I wish there were a 
chance of her seeing much that is interesting in Paris. 
However, flat as September generally is, she will get 
some Moliere at the Franqais, and your sister will take 
care that she sees the right people. Perrault, I hear, is 
to give her lessons under the rose. Happy man ! 

Kendal read this letter on a glowing August morning 
[ 370 ] 


as he walked homeward along the side of the pond, 
where the shade of the fir trees was a welcome protec- 
tion against the rising heat, and the air was fragrant 
with the scent of the ling, which was just out in all its 
first faint flush of beauty. He threw himself down 
among it after he had finished the sheets, and stared 
for long at the sunlit motionless water, his hat drawn 
forward over his brows. So this was the outcome of it 
all. Isabel Bretherton was about to become a great 
actress Undine had found her soul ! 

It seemed to him, as he lay there buried in the ling, 
that during the past three weeks he had lived through 
a whole drama of feeling a drama which had its 
beginning, its complications, its climax. While it had 
been going on he had been only half-conscious of its 
bearings, half-conscious of himself. Wallace's letter 
had made him sensible of the situation, as it concerned 
himself, with a decisive sharpness and completeness. 
There was no possibility of any further self-delusion : 
the last defences were overcome, the last veil between 
himself and the pursuing force which had overtaken 
him had fallen, and Kendal, with a shiver of pain, 
found himself looking straight into the wide, hungry 
eyes of Love ! Oh, was this love this sore desire, 
this dumb craving, this restlessness of the whole being? 

The bees hummed among the heather, every now 
and then a little brown-streaked lizard rustled faintly 
beside him, a pair of kingfishers flashed across the 
pond. But he saw and heard nothing, responsive as 
every sense in him commonly was to the details of 
the wild life about him. His own miserable reverie ab- 
sorbed him. What was it that had made the charm of 
[ 371 ] 


those early weeks in July immediately after his parting 
with her? What was it which had added zest to his 
work, and enchantment to the summer beauty of the 
country, and, like a hidden harmony dimly resonant 
within him, had kept life tuneful and delightful? He 
could put words to it now. It had been nothing less 
than a settled foresight, a deep conviction, of Isabel 
Bretherton's failure ! What a treachery ! But yes 
the vision perpetually before his eyes had been the 
vision of a dying fame, a waning celebrity, a forsaken 
and discrowned beauty ! And from that abandonment 
and that failure he had dimly foreseen the rise and up- 
springing of new and indescribable joy. He had seen 
her, conscious of defeat and of the inexorable limits of 
her own personality, turning to the man who had read 
her truly and yet had loved her, surely, from the very 
beginning, and finding in his love a fresh glory and an 
all-sufficient consolation. This had been the inmost 
truth, the centre, the kernel of all his thought, of all his 
life. He saw it now with sharp distinctness now that 
every perception was intensified by pain and longing. 
Then, as he went over the past, he saw how this 
consciousness had been gradually invaded and broken 
up by his sister's letters. He remembered the incred- 
ulous impatience with which he had read the earlier 
ones. So, Marie thought him mistaken! ' Isabel 
Bretherton would be an actress yet'. 'she had gen- 
ius, after air ' she was learning, growing, developing 
every day/ Absurd ! He had been able to keep his 
critical estimate of the actress and his personal admi- 
ration of the woman separate from one another. But 
evidently Marie's head had been confused, misled, by 
[ 372 ] 


her heart. And then, little by little, his incredulity had 
yielded, and his point of view had changed. Instead of 
impatience of Marie's laxity of judgement, what he had 
been fiercely conscious of for days was jealousy of Paul 
de Chateauvieux jealousy of his opportunities, his 
influence, his relation towards that keen sweet nature. 
That, too, had been one of his dreams of the future 
the dream of tutoring and training her young un- 
formed intelligence. He had done something towards 
it ; he had, as it were, touched the spring which had set 
free all this new and unexpected store of power. But, 
if he had planted, others had watered, and others 
would reap. In this great crisis of her fortunes he had 
been nothing to her. Other voices and other hands had 
guided and directed her. Her kindly, grateful mess- 
ages only stung and tortured him. They seemed to 
him the merest friendly commonplace. In reality her 
life had passed out of his ken ; her nature had flowered 
into a new perfection, and he had not been there to see 
or to help. She would never connect him with the in- 
cidents or the influences which had transformed exist- 
ence to her, and would probably irrevocably change 
the whole outline of her future. Once he had wounded 
and startled her, and had despaired for a while of un- 
doing the impression made upon her. But now he felt 
no quick anxiety, no fear how things might turn, only 
a settled flat consciousness of division, of a life that 
had once been near to his swept away from him for 
ever, of diverging roads which no kindly fate would 
ever join again. 

For, by the end of this time of solitary waiting, his 
change of attitude was complete. It was evident to 
[ 373 ] 


him that his anticipation of her failure, potent as it had 
been over his life, had never been half so real, half so 
vivid, as this new and strange foreboding of her true 
success. Marie must be right. He had been a mere 
blind hair-splitting pedant, judging Isabel Bretherton 
by principles and standards which left out of count the 
inborn energy, the natural power of growth, of such a 
personality as hers. And the more he had once doubted 
the more he now believed. Yes, she would be great 
she would make her way into that city of the mind, in 
which he himself had made his dwelling-place ; she, too, 
would enter upon the world's vast inheritance of know- 
ledge. She would become, if only her physical frame 
proved equal to the demands upon it, one of that little 
band of interpreters, of ministers of the idea, by whom 
the intellectual life of a society is fed and quickened. 
Was he so lost in his own selfish covetous need as not 
to rejoice? 

Oh, but she was a woman, she was beautiful, and he 
loved her ! Do what he would, all ideal and impersonal 
considerations fell utterly away from him. Day by day 
he knew more of his own heart ; day by day the philo- 
sopher grew weaker in him, and the man's claim 
fiercer. Before him perpetually were two figures of 
a most human and practical reality. He saw a great 
actress, absorbed in the excitement of the most stimu- 
lating of lives, her power ripening from year to year, 
her fame growing and widening with time ; and beside 
this brilliant vision he saw himself, the quiet man of 
letters, with the enthusiasms of youth behind him, 
the calm of middle-age before him. What possible link 
could there be between them? 
[ 374 ] 


At last Wallace's letter cleared still further the issues 
of the conflict; or rather, it led to Kendal's making 
a fatalist compact with himself. He was weary of the 
struggle, and it seemed to him that he must somehow 
or other escape from the grip in which his life was held. 
He must somehow deaden this sense, this bitter sense 
of loss, if it were only by postponing the last renuncia- 
tion. He would go back to his work and force himself 
not to hate it. It was his only refuge, and he must 
cling to it for dear life. And he would not see her 
again till the night of the first performance of Elvira. 
She would be in London in a month's time, but he 
would take care to be out of reach. He would not meet 
those glorious eyes or touch that hand again till the die 
was cast upon the fate of Elvira he staked his own. 
The decision brought him a strange kind of peace, and 
he went back to his papers and his books like a man 
who has escaped from the grasp of some deadly phys- 
ical ill into a period of comparative ease and relief. 


IT was a rainy November night. A soft continuous 
downpour was soaking the London streets, without, 
however, affecting their animation or the nocturnal 
brightness of the capital, for the brilliance of the gas- 
lamps was flashed back from innumerable patches of 
water, and every ray of light seemed to be broken by 
the rain into a hundred shimmering reflexions. It was 
the hour when all the society of which an autumnal 
London can boast is in the streets, hurrying to its din- 
ner or its amusements, and when the stream of diners- 
out, flowing through the different channels of the west, 
is met in all the great thoroughfares by the stream of 
theatre-goers setting eastward. 

The western end of D - Street was especially 
crowded, and so was the entrance to a certain narrow 
street leading northwards from it, in which stood the 
new bare buildings of the Calliope. Outside the theatre 
itself there was a dense mass of carriages and human 
beings, only kept in order by the active vigilance of the 
police and wavering to and fro with kaleidoscopic 
rapidity. The line of carriages seemed interminable, 
and, after those who emerged from them had run the 
gauntlet of the dripping, curious, good-tempered mul- 
titude outside, they had to face the sterner ordeal of 
the struggling, well-dressed crowd within, surging up 
the double staircase of the newly-decorated theatre. 
The air inside was full of the hum of talk, and the 
[ 376 ] 


whole crowd had a homogeneous, almost a family air, 
as though the contents of one great London salon had 
been poured into the theatre. Everybody seemed to 
know everybody else ; there were politicians, and art- 
ists, and writers of books, known and unknown ; there 
were fair women and wise women and great ladies ; and 
there was that large substratum of faithful, but com- 
paratively nameless, persons on whom a successful 
manager learns to depend with some confidence on any 
first night of importance. 

And this was a first night of exceptional interest. 
So keen, indeed, had been the competition for tickets 
that many of those present had as vague and confused 
an idea of how they came to be among the favoured 
multitude pouring into the Calliope as a man in a street 
panic has of the devices by which he has struggled past 
the barrier which has overthrown his neighbour. Miss 
Bretherton's first appearance in Elvira had been the 
subject of conversation for weeks past among a far 
larger number of London circles than generally concern 
themselves with theatrical affairs. Among those which 
might be said to be within a certain literary and art- 
istic circumference, people were able to give definite 
grounds for the public interest. The play, it was said, 
was an unusually good one, and the progress of the 
rehearsals had let loose a flood of rumours to the effect 
that Miss Bretherton's acting in it would be a great 
surprise to the public. Further from the intellectual 
centre of things, it was only known that the famous 
beauty had returned to the scene of her triumphs ; and 
that now, as in the season, one of the first articles of 
the social decalogue laid it down as necessary that 
[ 377 ] 


you should, first of all, see her in the theatre, and, sec- 
ondly, know her by fair means if possible, if not, 
by crooked ones in society. 

It was nearly a quarter to eight. The orchestra had 
taken their places, and almost every seat was full. In 
one of the dress-circle boxes sat three people who had 
arrived early, and had for some time employed them- 
selves in making a study of the incoming stream 
through their opera-glasses. They were Eustace Ken- 
dal, his sister, Madame de Chateauvieux, and her 
husband. The Chateauvieux had travelled over from 
Paris expressly for the occasion, and Madame de Cha- 
teauvieux, her grey-blue eyes sparkling with expecta- 
tion and all her small delicate features alive with inter- 
est and animation, was watching for the rising of the 
heavy velvet curtain with an eagerness which brought 
down upon her the occasional mockery of her husband, 
who was in reality, however, little less excited than 
herself. It was but three weeks since they had parted 
with Isabel Bretherton in Paris, and they were feeling 
on this first night something of the anxiety and re- 
sponsibility which parents feel when they launch a 
child upon whom they have expended their best efforts 
into a critical world. 

As for Eustace, he also had but that afternoon 
arrived in London. He had been paying a long duty- 
visit to some aged relatives in the North, and had so 
lengthened it out, in accordance with the whim which 
had taken possession of him in Surrey, that he had 
missed all the preparations for Elvira, and had arrived 
upon the scene only at the moment when the final coup 
was to be delivered. Miss Bretherton had herself sent 
[ 378 ] 


him a warm note of invitation, containing an order for 
the first night and an appeal to him to come and ' judge 
me as kindly as truth will let you/ And he had an- 
swered her that, whatever happened, he would be in 
his place in the Calliope on the night of the 20th of 

And now here he was, wearing outwardly precisely 
the same aspect of interested expectation as those 
around him, and all the time conscious inwardly that 
to him alone, of all the human beings in that vast 
theatre, the experience of the evening would be so vit- 
ally and desperately important, that life on the other 
side of it would bear the mark of it for ever. It was 
a burden to him that his sister suspected nothing of 
his state of feeling; it would have consoled him that 
she should know it, but it seemed to him impossible to 
tell her. 

' There are the Stuarts/ he said, bending down to her 
as the orchestra struck up, 'in the box to the left. 
Forbes, I suppose, will join them when it begins. I am 
told he has been working like a horse for this play. 
Every detail in it, they say, is perfect, artistically and 
historically, and the time of preparation has been 
exceptionally short. Why did she refuse to begin again 
with the White Lady, to give herself more time?' 

' I cannot tell you, except that she had a repugnance 
to it which could not be got over. I believe her asso- 
ciations with the play were so painful that it would 
have seemed an evil omen to her to begin a new season 
with it.' 

'Was she wise, I wonder?' 

' I think she did well to follow her fancy in the mat- 
[ 379 ] 


ter, and she herself has had plenty of time. She was 
working at it all the weeks she was with us, and young 
Harting, too, I think had notice enough. Some of the 
smaller parts may go roughly to-night, but they will 
soon fall into shape/ 

'Poor Wallace!' said Kendal; 'he must be wishing 
it well over. I never saw a house better stocked with 

' Here he is/ cried Madame de Chateauvieux, betray- 
ing her suppressed excitement in her nervous little 
start. 'Oh, Mr. Wallace, how do you do? and how 
are things going?' 

Poor Wallace threw himself into his seat, looking the 
picture of misery so far as his face, which Nature had 
moulded in one of her cheerfullest moods, was capable 
of it. 

' My dear Madame de Chateauvieux, I have no more 
notion than the man in the moon. Miss Bretherton is 
an angel, and without Forbes we should have collapsed 
a hundred times already, and that's about all I know. 
As for the other actors, I suppose they will get through 
their parts somehow, but at present I feel like a man 
at the foot of the gallows. There goes the bell ; now 
for it.' 

The sketch for the play of Elvira had been found 
among the papers of a young penniless Italian who had 
died, almost of starvation, in his Roman garret, during 
those teeming years after 1830, when poets grew on 
every hedge and the Romantic passion was abroad. The 
sketch had appeared in a little privately-printed vol- 
ume which Edward Wallace had picked up by chance 
on the Paris quays. He had read it in an idle hour in a 
[ 380 ] 


railway, had seen its capabilities, and had forthwith set 
to work to develop the sketch into a play. But, in de- 
veloping it, he had carefully preserved the character of 
the original conception. It was a conception strictly of 
the Romantic time, and the execution of it presented 
very little of that variety of tone which modern audi- 
ences have learnt to expect. The play told one rapid 
breathless story of love, jealousy, despair, and death, 
and it told it directly and uninterruptedly, without 
any lighter interludes. Author and adapter alike had 
trusted entirely to the tragic force of the situation and 
the universality of the motives appealed to. The dic- 
tion of the piece was the diction of Alfred de Vigny or 
of the school of Victor Hugo. It was, indeed, rather a 
dramatic love-poem than a play, in the modern sense, 
and it depended altogether for its success upon the two 
characters of Macias and Elvira. 

In devising the character of Macias the Italian 
author had made use of a traditional Spanish type, 
which has its historical sources, and has inspired many 
a Spanish poet from the fifteenth century downwards. 
Macias is knight, poet, and lover ; his love is a kind of 
Southern madness which withers every other feeling 
in its neighbourhood, and his tragic death is the only 
natural ending to a career so fierce and uncontrolled. 
Elvira, with whom Macias is in love, the daughter of 
Nuno Fernandez, is embodied gentleness and virtue, 
until the fierce progress of her fate has taught her that 
men are treacherous and the world cruel. For her love 
had been prosperous and smooth until, by a series of 
events, it had been brought into antagonism with two 
opposing interests those of her father and of a cer- 
[ 381 ] 


tain Fernan Perez, the tool and favourite of the power- 
ful Duke of Villena. The ambition and selfish passion 
of these two men are enlisted against her. Perez is 
determined to marry her ; her father is determined to 
sweep Macias out of the path of his own political ad- 
vancement. The intrigue devised between the two is 
perfectly successful. Macias is enticed away; Elvira, 
forced to believe that she is deserted and betrayed, 
is half-driven, half-entrapped, into a marriage with 
Perez; and Macias, returning to claim her against a 
hundred obstacles, meets the wedding-party on their 
way back to the palace of the Duke. 

The rest of the play represented, of course, the strug- 
gle between the contending forces thus developed. In 
plan and mechanism the story was one of a common 
Romantic type, neither better nor worse than hundreds 
of others of which the literary archives of the first half 
of the present century are full. It required all the aid 
that fine literary treatment could give it to raise it 
above the level of vulgar melodrama and turn it into 
tragedy. But fortune had been kind to it ; the subject 
had been already handled in the Italian sketch with 
delicacy and a true tragic insight, and Edward Wallace 
had brought all the resources of a very evenly-trained 
and critical mind to bear upon his task. It could 
hardly have been foreseen that he would be attracted 
by the subject, but once at work upon it he had 
worked with enthusiasm. 

The curtain drew up on the great hall of the Villena 

Palace. Everything that antiquarian knowledge could 

do had been brought to bear upon the surroundings of 

the scene; the delicate tilework of the walls and floor, 

[ 382 ] 


the leather hangings, the tapestries, the carved wood- 
and brass-work of a Spanish palace of the fifteenth 
century, had been copied with lavish magnificence; 
and the crowded, expectant house divided its atten- 
tion and applause during the first scene between the 
beauty and elaboration of its setting and the play of 
the two tolerable actors who represented Elvira's 
father and the rival of Macias, Fernan Perez. 

Fernan Perez, having set the intrigue on foot which 
is to wreck the love of Macias and Elvira, had just risen 
from his seat, when Wallace, who was watching the 
stage in a torment of mingled satisfaction and despair, 
touched Madame de Chateauvieux's arm. 

'Now!' he said. 'That door to the left.' 

Kendal, catching the signal, rose from his seat be- 
hind Madame de Chateau vieux and bent forward. The 
great door at the end of the palace had slowly opened 
and gliding through it with drooping head and hands 
clasped before her came Elvira, followed by her little 
maid Beatriz. The storm which greeted her appear- 
ance was such as thrilled the pulses of the oldest hab- 
itue in the theatre. Tears came to Madame de Chd- 
teauvieux's eyes, and she looked up at her brother. 

' What a scene ! It is overpowering it is too much 
for her! I wish they would let her go on!' 

Kendal made no answer, his soul was in his eyes; 
he had no senses for any but one person. She was 
there, within a few yards of him, in all the sovereignty 
of her beauty and her fame, invested with the utmost 
romance that circumstances could bestow, and about, 
if half he heard were true, to reap a great artistic, no 
less than a great personal triumph. Had he felt to- 
[ 383 ] 


wards her only as the public felt it would have been an 
experience beyond the common run, and as it was - 
oh, this aching, intolerable sense of desire, of separa- 
tion, of irremediable need! Was that her voice? He 
had heard that tone of despair in it before under 
overarching woods, when the June warmth was in the 
air ! That white outstretched hand had once lain close- 
clasped in his own ; those eyes had once looked with 
a passionate trouble into his. Ah, it was gone for ever, 
nothing would ever recall it that one quick moment 
of living contact ! In a deeper sense than met the ear, 
she was on the stage and he among the audience. To 
the end his grey life would play the part of spectator to 
hers, or else she would soon have passed beyond his 
grasp and touch, just as Elvira would have vanished 
in a little while from the sight of the great audience 
which now hung upon her every movement. 

Then from the consciousness of his own private 
smart he was swept out, whether he would or no, into 
the general current of feeling which was stirring the 
multitude of human beings around him, and he found 
himself gradually mastered by considerations of a dif- 
ferent order altogether. Was this the actress he had 
watched with such incessant critical revolt six months 
before? Was this the half-educated girl, grasping at re- 
sults utterly beyond her realisation, whom he remem- 

It seemed to him impossible that this quick artistic 
intelligence, this nervous understanding of the de- 
mands made upon her, this faculty in meeting them, 
could have been developed by the same Isabel Breth- 
erton whose earlier image was so distinctly graven on 
[ 384 ] 


his memory. And yet his trained eye learned after 
a while to decipher in a hundred indications the past 
history of the change. He saw how she had worked, 
and where ; the influences which had been brought to 
bear upon her were all familiar to him ; they had been 
part of his own training, and they belonged, as he 
knew, to the first school of dramatic art in Europe - 
to the school which keeps alive from generation to 
generation the excellence and fame of the best French 
drama. He came to estimate by degrees all that she 
had done ; he saw also all she had still to do. In the 
spring she had been an actress without a future, con- 
demned by the inexorable logic of things to see her 
fame desert her with the first withering of her beauty. 
Now she had, as it were, but started towards her right- 
ful goal, but her feet were in the great highroad, and 
Kendal saw before her, if she had but strength to 
reach it, the very highest summit of artistic success. 

The end of the first act was reached ; Elvira, return- 
ing from the performance of the marriage ceremony in 
the chapel of the palace, had emerged hand-in-hand 
with her husband, and, followed by her wedding-train, 
upon the great hall. She had caught sight of Macias 
standing blanched and tottering under the weight of 
the incredible news which had just been given to him 
by the Duke. She had flung away the hateful hand 
which held her, and, with a cry, instinct with the 
sharp and terrible despair of youth, she had thrown 
herself at the feet of her lover. 

When the curtain fell, Edward Wallace could have 
had few doubts if he had ever cherished any of 
the success of his play. He himself escaped behind the 
[ 385 ] 


scenes as soon as Miss Bretherton's last recall was over, 
and the box was filled in his absence with a stream of 
friends, and a constant murmur of congratulation, 
which was music in the ears of Madame de Chateau- 
vieux, and, for the moment, silenced in Kendal his 
own throbbing and desolate consciousness. 

'There never was a holiday turned to such good 
account before/ a grey-haired dramatic critic was say- 
ing to her, a man with whose keen, good-natured face 
London had been familiar for the last twenty years. 
'What magic has touched the beauty, Madame de 
Chateauvieux? Last spring we all felt as though one 
fairy godmother at least had been left out at the 
christening. And now it would seem as though even 
she had repented of it, and brought her gift with the 
rest. Well, well, I always felt there was something at 
the bottom in that nature that might blossom yet. 
Most people who are younger at the trade than I 
would not hear of it. It was commonly agreed that 
her success would last just as long as the first fresh- 
ness of her beauty, and no more. And now the 
English stage has laid its hold at last upon a great 

Madame de Chateauvieux's smiling reply was 
broken by the reappearance of Wallace, round whom 
the buzz of congratulation closed with fresh vigour. 

'How is she?' asked Madame de Chateauvieux, 
laying a hand on his arm. 'Tired?' 

' Not the least ! But, of course, all the strain is to 
come. It is amazing, you know, this reception. It's 
almost more trying than the acting. Forbes in the 
wings, looking on, is a play in himself!' 


In another minute the hubbub had swept out again, 
and the house had settled into silence. 

Macias was the central figure of the second act. In 
the great scene of explanation between himself and 
Elvira, after he had forced his way into her apartment, 
his fury of jealous sarcasm, broken by flashes of the old 
absolute trust, of the old tender worship, had been 
finely conceived, and was well rendered by the promis- 
ing young actor, whom Wallace had himself chosen for 
the part. Elvira, overwhelmed by the scorn and de- 
spair of her lover, and, conscious of the treachery 
which has separated them, is yet full of a blind resolve 
to play the part she has assumed to the bitter end, to 
save her own name and her father's from dishonour, 
and to interpose the irrevocable barrier of her marriage 
vow between herself and Macias. Suddenly they are 
interrupted by the approach of the Duke and of Fer- 
nan Perez. Elvira throws herself between her husband 
and her lover, and, having captured the sword of 
Macias, hands it to the Duke. Macias is arrested after 
a tumultuous scene, and is led away, shaking off El- 
vira's efforts to save him with bitter contempt, and 
breaking loose from her with the prophecy that in 
every joy of the future and every incident of her 
wedded life, the spectre of his murdered love will rise 
before her, and 'every echo and every breeze repeat 
the fatal name, Macias.' 

During the rapid give and take of this trying scene 
Kendal saw with a kind of incredulous admiration that 
Isabel Bretherton never once lost herself, that every 
gesture was true, every word struck home. Her extra- 
ordinary grace, her marvellous beauty were all subor- 
[ 387 ] 


dinated to, forgotten almost in the supreme human 
passion speaking through her. Macias, in the height of 
his despair while he was still alone with her, had flung 
her his sword, declaring that he would go forth and 
seek his death an unarmed and defenceless man. Then, 
when he becomes conscious of the approach of his rival, 
the soldier's instinct revives in him; he calls for his 
sword ; she refuses it, and he makes a threatening step 
towards her. 

Mac. My sword, Elvira. 
Elvira. Never! 
Beatriz. Ah! they are here. It is too late! 
Elvira. Go ! No blood shall flow for me. Come no nearer or 
I sheathe it in this breast. 

All the desperate energy of a loving woman driven to 
bay was in her attitude as she repelled Macias, whereas 
in the agony of her last clinging appeal to him, as his 
guards lead him off, every trace of her momentary 
heroism had died away. Faint and trembling, recoiling 
from every harsh word of his as from a blow, she had 
followed him towards the door, and in her straining 
eyes and seeking, outstretched hands as she watched 
him disappear, there was a pathos so true, so poignant, 
that it laid a spell upon the audience, and the curtain 
fell amid a breathless silence, which made the roar that 
almost instantly followed doubly noticeable. 

But it was in the third act that she won her highest 
triumph. The act opened with a scene between Elvira 
and her husband, in which she implored him, with the 
humility and hopelessness of grief, to allow her to 
retire from the world and to hide the beauty which 
had wrought such ruin from the light of day. He, 
[ 388 ] 


in whom jealousy has taken fierce root, refuses with 
reproach and insult, and in the full tide of her passion- 
ate reaction against his tyranny, the news is brought 
her by Beatriz that Fernan, in his determination to 
avoid the duel with Macias on the morrow, which the 
Duke, in accordance with knightly usage, has been 
forced to grant, has devised means for assassinating his 
rival in prison. Naturally, her whole soul is thrown 
into an effort to save her lover. She bribes his guards, 
she sends Beatriz to denounce the treachery of her 
husband to the Duke, and, finally, she herself pene- 
trates into the cell of Macias, to warn him of the fate 
that threatens him and to persuade him to fly. 

It was, indeed, a dramatic moment when the gloom 
of Macias' s cell was first broken by the glimmer of the 
hand-lamp, which revealed to the vast expectant au- 
dience the form of Elvira standing on the threshold, 
searching the darkness with her shaded eyes; and in 
the great love-scene which followed, the first sharp 
impression was steadily deepened word by word and 
gesture after gesture by the genius of the actress. 
Elvira finds Macias in a mood of calm and even joyful 
waiting for the morrow. His honour is satisfied ; death 
and battle are before him, and the proud Castilian is 
almost at peace. The vision of Elvira's pale beauty 
and his quick intuition of the dangers she has run in 
forcing her way to him produce a sudden revulsion of 
feeling towards her, a flood of passionate reconcilia- 
tion ; he is at her feet once more ; he feels that she is 
true, that she is his. She, in a frenzy of fear, cannot 
succeed for all her efforts in dimming his ecstasy of joy 
or in awakening him to the necessity of flight, and at 
[ 389 ] 


last he even resents her terror for him, her entreaties 
that he will forget her and escape. 

'Great Heaven!' he says, turning from her in de- 
spair, 'it was not love, it was only pity that brought 
her here/ Then, broken down by the awful pressure of 
the situation, her love resists his no longer, but rather 
she sees in the full expression of her own heart the only 
chance of reconciling him to life, and of persuading him 
to take thought for his own safety. 

Elvira. See, Macias ! these tears each one is yours, is 
wept for you! Oh, if to soften that proud will of yours this 
hapless woman must needs open all her weak heart to you, if 
she must needs tell you that she lives only in your life and dies 
in your death, her lip will brace itself even to that pitiful confes- 
sion! Ah me! these poor cheeks have been so blanched with 
weeping, they have no blushes left. 

To her this supreme avowal is the only means of mak- 
ing him believe her report of his danger, and turn to- 
wards flight ; but in him it produces a joy which ban- 
ishes all thought of personal risk, and makes separa- 
tion from her worse than death. When she bids him 
fly, he replies by one word, ' Come ! ' and not till she has 
promised to guide him to the city gates and to follow 
him later on his journey will he move a step towards 
freedom. And then, when her dear hand is about to 
open to him the door of his prison, it is too late. Fer- 
nan and his assassins are at hand, the stairs are sur- 
rounded, and escape is cut off. Again, in these last 
moments, when the locked door still holds between 
them and the death awaiting them, her mood is one 
of agonised terror, not for herself, but for him ; while 
he, exalted far above all fear, supports and calms 

[ 390 ] 


Madas. Think no more of the world which has destroyed 
us! We owe it nothing nothing! Come, the bonds which 
linked us to it are for ever broken! Death is at the door; we 
are already dead ! Come, and make death beautiful : tell me you 
love, love, love me to the end ! 

Then, putting her from him, he goes out to meet his 
enemies. There is a clamour outside, and he returns 
wounded to death, pursued by Fernan and his men. 
He falls, and Elvira defends him from her husband 
with a look and gesture so terrible that he and the mur- 
derers fall back before her as though she were some 
ghastly avenging spirit. Then, bending over him, she 
snatches the dagger from the grasp of the dying man, 
saying to him, with a voice into which Isabel Brether- 
ton threw a wealth of pitiful tenderness, ' There is but 
one way left, beloved. Your wife that should have 
been, that is, saves herself and you so!' 

And in the dead silence that followed, her last mur- 
mur rose upon the air as the armed men, carrying 
torches, crowded round her. ' See, Macias, the torches 
- how they shine ! Bring more bring more and 
light our marriage festival ! ' 

' Eustace ! Eustace ! there, now they have let her go ! 
Poor child, poor child ! how is she to stand this night 
after night? Eustace, do you hear? Let us go in to 
her now quick, before she is quite surrounded. I 
don't want to stay, but I must just see her, and so 
must Paul. Ah, Mr. Wallace is gone already, but he 
described to me how to find her. This way!' 

And Madame de Chateauvieux, brushing the tears 
from her eyes with one hand, took Kendal's arm with 
the other, and hurried him along the narrow passages 
[ 391 ] 


leading to the door on to the stage, M. de Chateau vieux 
following them, his keen French face glistening with 
a quiet but intense satisfaction. 

As for Kendal, every sense in him was covetously 
striving to hold and fix the experiences of the last half- 
hour. The white muffled figure standing in the turret- 
door, the faint lamplight streaming on the bent head 
and upraised arm those tones of self -forgetful pas- 
sion, drawn straight, as it were, from the pure heart of 
love the splendid energy of that last defiance of fate 
and circumstance the low vibrations of her dying 
words the power of the actress and the personality 
of the woman all these different impressions were 
holding wild war within him as he hastened on, with 
Marie clinging to his arm.- And beyond the little stage- 
door the air seemed to be even more heavily charged 
with excitement than that of the theatre. For, as 
Kendal emerged with this sister, his attention was 
perforce attracted by the little crowd of persons al- 
ready assembled round the figure of Isabel Bretherton, 
and, as his eye travelled over them, he realised with 
a fresh start the full compass of the change which had 
taken place. To all the more eminent persons in that 
group Miss Bretherton had been six months before an 
ignorant and provincial beauty, good enough to create 
a social craze, and nothing more. Their presence 
round her at this moment, their homage, the emotion 
visible everywhere, proved that all was different, that 
she had passed the barrier which once existed between 
her and the world which knows and thinks, and had 
been drawn within that circle of individualities which, 
however undefined, is still the vital circle of any time 
[ 392 ] 


or society, for it is the circle which represents, more or 
less brilliantly and efficiently, the intellectual life of 
a generation. 

Only one thing was unchanged the sweetness and 
spontaneity of that rich womanly nature. She gave 
a little cry as she saw Madame de Chateau vieux enter. 
She came running forward, and threw her arms round 
the elder woman and kissed her; it was almost the 
greeting of a daughter to a mother. And then, still 
holding Madame de Chateau vieux with one hand, she 
held out the other to Paul, asking him how much fault 
he had to find, and when she was to take her scolding ; 
and every gesture had a glow of youth and joy in it, of 
which the contagion was irresistible. She had thrown 
off the white head-dress she had worn during the last 
act, and her delicately-tinted head and neck rose from 
the splendid wedding-gown of gold-embroidered satin 
a vision of flowerlike and aerial beauty. 

Fast as the talk flowed about her, Kendal noticed 
that every one seemed to be, first of all, conscious of 
her neighbourhood, of her dress rustling past, of her 
voice in all its different shades of gaiety or quick 

'Oh, Mr. Kendal/ she said, turning to him again 
after their first greeting was it the magnetism of his 
gaze which had recalled hers? 'if you only knew 
what your sister has been to me ! How much I owe to 
her and to you ! It was kind of you to come to-night. 
I should have been so disappointed if you had n't !' 

Then she came closer to him, and said archly, almost 
in his ear : 

'Have you forgiven me?' 

[ 393 ] 


' Forgiven you ? For what ? ' 

'For laying hands on Elvira, after all. You must 
have thought me a rash and headstrong person when 
you heard of it. Oh, I worked so hard at her, and all 
with the dread of you in my mind!' 

This perfect friendly openness, this bright camarade- 
rie of hers, were so hard to meet ! 

'You have played Elvira/ he said, 'as I never 
thought it would be played by anybody; and I was 
blind from first to last. I hoped you had forgotten that 
piece of pedantry on my part/ 

' One does not forget the turning-points of one's life/ 
she answered with a sudden gravity. 

Kendal had been keeping an iron grip upon himself 
during the past hours, but, as she said this, standing 
close beside him, it seemed to him impossible that his 
self-restraint should hold much longer. Those wonder- 
ful eyes of hers were full upon him ; there was emotion 
in them, evidently the Nuneham scene was in her 
mind, as it was in his, and a great friendliness, even 
gratitude, seemed to look out through them. But it 
was as though his doom were written in the very can- 
dour and openness of her gaze, and he rushed desper- 
ately into speech again, hardly knowing what he was 

' It gives me half pain, half pleasure, that you should 
speak of it so. I have never ceased to hate myself for 
that day. But you have travelled far indeed since the 
White Lady I never knew any one do so much in so 
short a time!' 

She smiled did her lip quiver? Evidently his 
praise was very pleasant to her, and there must have 
[ 394 ] 


been something strange and stirring to her feeling in 
the intensity and intimacy of his tone. Her bright look 
caught his again, and he believed for one wild moment 
that the eyelids sank and fluttered. He lost all con- 
sciousness of the crowd ; his whole soul seemed concen- 
trated on that one instant. Surely she must feel it, or 
love is indeed impotent ! 

But no, it was all a delusion ! she moved away 
from him, and the estranging present rushed in again 
between them. 

' It has been M. de Chateau vieux's doing, almost all 
of it/ she said, eagerly, with a change of voice, 'and 
your sister's. Will you come and see me sometime and 
talk about some of the Paris people? Oh, I am wanted ! 
But first you must be introduced to Macias. Was n't 
he good? It was such an excellent choice of Mr. Wal- 
lace's. There he is, and there is his wife, that pretty 
little dark woman.' 

Kendal followed her mechanically, and presently 
found himself talking nothings to Mr. Harting, who, 
gorgeous in his Spanish dress, was receiving the con- 
gratulations which poured in upon him with a pleasant 
mixture of good manners and natural elation. A little 
farther on he stumbled upon Forbes and the Stuarts, 
Mrs. Stuart as sparkling and fresh as ever, a suggestive 
contrast in her American crispness and prettiness to 
the high-bred distinction of Madame de Chateauvieux, 
who was standing near her. 

'Well, my dear fellow/ said Forbes, catching hold of 
him, 'how is that critical demon of yours? Is he 
scotched yet?' 

'He is almost at his last gasp/ said Kendal, with 
[ 395 ] 


a ghostly smile, and a reckless impulse to talk which 
seemed to him his salvation. ' He was never as vicious 
a creature as you thought him, and Miss Bretherton 
has had no difficulty in slaying him. But that hall 
was a masterpiece, Forbes ! How have your pictures 
got on with all this?' 

' I have n't touched a brush since I came back from 
Switzerland, except to make sketches for this thing. 
Oh, it's been a terrible business! Mr. WorralFs hair 
has turned grey over the expenses of it; however, 
she and I would have our way, and it 's all right - 
the play will run for twelve months, if she chooses, 

Near by were the Worralls, looking a little sulky, 
as Kendal fancied, in the midst of this great inrush of 
the London world, which was sweeping their niece 
from them into a position of superiority and independ- 
ence they were not at all prepared to see her take up. 
Nothing, indeed, could be prettier than her manner to 
them whenever she came across them, but it was 
evident that she was no longer an automaton to be 
moved at their will and pleasure, but a woman and an 
artist, mistress of herself and of her fate. Kendal fell 
into conversation on the subject with Mrs. Stuart, who 
was as communicative and amusing as usual, and 
who chattered away to him till he suddenly saw Miss 
Bretherton signalling to him with her arm in that of 
his sister. 

' Do you know, Mr. Kendal/ she said as he went up 

to her, ' you must really take Madame de Chateauvieux 

away out of this noise and crowd? It is all very well 

for her to preach to me. Take her to your rooms and 

[ 396 ] 


get her some food. How I wish I could entertain you 
here ; but with this crowd it is impossible/ 

'Isabel, my dear Isabel/ cried Madame de Chateau- 
vieux, holding her, ' can't you slip away too, and leave 
Mr. Wallace to do the honours? There will be nothing 
left of you to-morrow/ 

' Yes, directly, directly ! only I feel as if sleep were 
a thing that did not exist for me. But you must 
certainly go. Take her, Mr. Kendal ; does n't she look 
a wreck? I will tell M. de Chateauvieux and send 
him after you/ 

She took Marie's shawl from Kendal's arm and put 
it tenderly round her ; then she smiled down into her 
eyes, said a low 'good-night, best and kindest of 
friends!' and the brother and sister hurried away, 
Kendal dropping the hand which had been cordially 
stretched out to himself. 

'Do you mind, Eustace?' said Madame de Chateau- 
vieux, as they walked across the stage. ' I ought to go, 
and the party ought to break up. But it is a shame to 
carry you off from so many friends/ 

'Mind? Why, I have ordered supper for you in my 
rooms, and it is just midnight. I hope these people will 
have the sense to go soon. Now then, for a cab/ 

They alighted at the gate of the Temple, and, as they 
walked across the quadrangle under a sky still heavy 
with storm-clouds, Madame de Chateauvieux said to 
her brother with a sigh: 'Well, it has been a great 
event. I never remember anything more exciting, or 
more successful. But there is one thing, I think, that 
would make me happier than a hundred Elviras, and 
that is to see Isabel Bretherton the wife of a man she 
[ 397 ] 


loved ! ' Then a smile broke over her face as she looked 
at her brother. ' Do you know, Eustace, I quite made 
up my mind from those first letters of yours in May, in 
spite of your denials, that you were very deeply taken 
with her? I remember quite seriously discussing the 
pros and cons of it with myself.' 

The words were said so lightly, they betrayed so 
clearly the speaker's conviction that she had made a 
foolish mistake, that they stung Kendal to the quick. 
How could Marie have known ? Had not his letters for 
the last three months been misleading enough to de- 
ceive the sharpest eyes? And yet he felt unreasonably 
that she ought to have known there was a blind 
clamour in him against the bluntness of her sisterly 

His silence was so prolonged that Madame de 
Chateauvieux was startled by it. She slipped her 
hand into his arm. ' Eustace ! ' Still no answer. ' Have 
I said anything to annoy you Eustace? Won't you 
let your old sister have her dreams?' 

But still it seemed impossible for him to speak. 
He could only lay his hand over hers with a brotherly 
clasp. By this time they were at the foot of the stairs, 
and he led the way up, Madame de Chateauvieux 
following in a tumult of anxious conjecture. When 
they reached his rooms he put her carefully into a 
chair by the fire, made her take some sandwiches, and 
set the kettle to boil in his handy bachelor way, that 
he might make her some tea, and all the time he talked 
about various nothings, till at last Marie, unable to put 
up with it any longer, caught his hand as he was 
bending over the fire. 

[ 398 ] 


'Eustace/ she exclaimed, 'be kind to me, and don't 
perplex me like this. Oh, my poor old boy, are you 
in love with Isabel Bretherton?' 

He drew himself to his full height on the rug, and 
gazed steadily into the fire, the lines of his mobile face 
settling into repose. 

'Yes/ he said, as though to himself; 'I love her. I 
believe I have loved her from the first moment/ 

Madame de Chateauvieux was tremblingly silent, 
her thoughts travelling back over the past with light- 
ning rapidity. Could she remember one word, one look 
of Isabel Bretherton's, of which her memory might 
serve to throw the smallest ray of light on this darkness 
in which Eustace seemed to be standing? No, not one. 
Gratitude, friendship, esteem all these had been 
there abundantly, but nothing else, not one of those 
many signs by which one woman betrays her love to 
another ! She rose and put her arm round her brother's 
neck. They had been, so much to one another for 
nearly forty years ; he had never wanted anything as 
a child or youth that she had not tried to get for him. 
How strange, how intolerable, that this toy, this boon, 
was beyond her getting ! 

Her mute sympathy and her deep distress touched 
him, while, at the same time, they seemed to quench 
the last spark of hope in him. Had he counted upon 
hearing something from her whenever he should break 
silence which would lighten the veil over the future? 
It must have been so, otherwise why this sense of fresh 

'Dear Marie/ he said to her, kissing her brow as 
she stood beside him, 'you must be as good to me as 
[ 399 ] 


you can. I shall probably be a good deal out of London 
for the present, and my books are a wonderful help. 
After all, life is not all summed up in one desire, 
however strong. Other things are real to me I am 
thankful to say. I shall live it down/ 

'But why despair so soon?' she cried, rebelling 
against this heavy acquiescence of his and her own 
sense of hopelessness. 'You are a man any woman 
might love. Why should she not pass from the mere 
friendly intellectual relation to another? Don't go 
away from London. Stay and see as much of her as 
you can/ 

Kendal shook his head. 'I used to dream/ he said, 
huskily, 'of a time when failure should have come, 
when she would want some one to step in and shield 
her. Sometimes I thought of her protected in my arms 
against the world. But now!' 

She felt the truth of his unspoken argument of 
all that his tone implied. In the minds of both the 
same image gathered shape and distinctness. Isabel 
Bretherton in the halo of her great success, in all the 
intensity of her new life, seemed to her and to him to 
stand afar off, divided by an impassable gulf from this 
simple, human craving, which was crying to her, 
unheard and hopeless, across the darkness. 


A MONTH after the first performance of Elvira Kendal 
returned to town on a frosty December afternoon from 
the Surrey lodgings on which he had now established 
a permanent hold. He mounted to his room, found his 
letters lying ready for him, and on the top of them a 
telegram, which, as his man-servant informed him, had 
arrived about an hour before. He took it up carelessly, 
opened it, and bent over it with a start of anxiety. 
It was from his brother-in-law. 'Marie is very ill. 
Doctors' much alarmed. Can you come to-night?' He 
put it down in stupefaction. Marie ill! the doctors 
alarmed ! Good Heavens ! could he catch that evening 
train? He looked at his watch, decided that there was 
time, and plunged, with his servant's help, into all the 
necessary preparations. An hour and a half later he 
was speeding along through the clear cold moonlight 
to Dover, realising for the first time, as he leant back 
alone in his compartment, the full meaning of the 
news which had hurried him off. All his tender affec- 
tion for his sister, and all his stifling sense of something 
unlucky and untoward in his own life, which had been 
so strong in him during the past two months, combined 
to rouse in him the blackest fears, the most hopeless 
despondency. Marie dead, what would the world 
hold for him ! Books, thought, ideas were they 
enough? Could a man live by them if all else were 
[ 401 ] 


gone? For the first time Kendal felt a doubt which 
seemed to shake his nature to its depths. 

During the journey his thoughts dwelt in a dull sore 
way upon the past. He saw Marie in her childhood, in 
her youth, in her rich maturity. He remembered her 
in the school-room spending all her spare time over 
contrivances of one kind or another for his amusement. 
He had a vision of her going out with their mother on 
the night of her first ball, and pitying him for being 
left behind. He saw her tender face bending over the 
death-bed of their father, and through a hundred in- 
cidents and memories all beautiful, all intertwined 
with that lovely self-forgetfulness which was charac- 
teristic of her, his mind travelled down to an evening 
scarcely a month before, when her affection had once 
more stood, a frail warm barrier, between him and the 
full bitterness of a great renunciation. Oh Marie, Marie ! 

It was still dark when he reached Paris, and the 
grey winter light was only just dawning when he 
stopped at the door of his brother-in-law's house in one 
of the new streets near the Champs Elyse*es. M. de 
Chateauvieux was standing on the stairs, his smoothly- 
shaven, clear-cut face drawn and haggard, and a stoop 
in his broad shoulders which Kendal had never noticed 
before. Kendal sprang up the steps and wrung his 
hand. M. de Chateauvieux shook his head almost with 
a groan, in answer to the brother's inquiry of eye and 
lip, and led the way upstairs into the forsaken salon, 
which looked as empty and comfortless as though its 
mistress had been gone from it years instead of days. 
Arrived there, the two men standing opposite to each 
other in the streak of dull light made by the hasty 
[ 402 ] 


withdrawal of a curtain, Paul said, speaking in a 
whisper, with dry lips : 

' There is no hope the pain is gone ; you would 
think she was better, but the doctors say she will 
just lie there as she is lying now till till the 

Kendal staggered over to a chair and tried to realise 
what he had heard, but it was impossible, although 
his journey had seemed to him one long preparation 
for the worst. 'What is it how did it happen?' he 

'Internal chill. She was only taken ill the day 
before yesterday, and the pain was frightful till yester- 
day afternoon ; then it subsided, and I thought she was 
better she herself was so cheerful and so thankful 
for the relief but when the two doctors came in 
again, it was to tell me that the disappearance of the 
pain meant only the worst meant that nothing more 
can be done she may go at any moment/ 

There was a silence. M. de Chateau vieux walked 
up and down with the noiseless step which even a few 
hours of sickness develop in the watcher, till he came 
and stood before his brother-in-law, saying in the same 
painful whisper, ' You must have some food, then I will 
tell her you are here/ 

' No, no ; I want no food, any time will do for 
that. Does she expect me?' 

'Yes; you won't wait? Then come/ He led the 
way across a little anteroom, lifted a curtain, and 
knocked. The nurse came, there was a little parley, 
and Paul went in, while Eustace waited outside, 
conscious of the most strangely trivial things, of the 
[ 403 ] 


passers-by in the street, of a wrangle between two 
gamins on the pavement opposite, of the misplacement 
of certain volumes in the bookcase beside him, till the 
door opened again, and M. de Chateau vieux drew him 

He stepped over the threshold, his whole being 
wrought up to he knew not what solemn pageant of 
death and parting, and the reality within startled him. 
The room was flooded with morning light, a frosty 
December sun was struggling through the fog, the 
curtains had just been drawn back, and the wintry 
radiance rested on the polished brass of the bed, on the 
bright surfaces of wood and glass with which the room 
was full, on the little tray of tea-things which the nurse 
held, and on his sister's face of greeting as she lay back 
smiling among her pillows. There was such a cheerful 
home peace and brightness in the whole scene in the 
crackling wood -fire, in the sparkle of the tea-things and 
the fragrance of the tea, and in the fresh white sur- 
roundings of the invalid ; it seemed to him incredible 
that under all this familiar household detail there 
should be lying in wait that last awful experience of 

Marie kissed him with grateful affectionate words 
spoken almost in her usual voice, and then, as he sat 
beside her holding her hands, she noticed that he 
looked pale and haggard. 

'Has he had some breakfast, Paul? Oh, poor Eu- 
stace, after that long journey! Nurse, let him have 
my cup, there is some tea left; let me see you drink 
it, dear; it's so pleasant just to look after you once 

[ 404 ] 


He drank it mechanically, she watching him with 
her loving eyes, while she took one hand from him and 
slipped it into that of her husband as he sat beside her 
on the bed. Her touch seemed to have meaning in it, 
for Paul rose presently and went to the far end of the 
large room ; the nurse carried away the tea-things, and 
the brother and sister were practically alone. 

'Dear Eustace/ she began, after a few pathetic 
moments of silence, in which look and gesture took the 
place of speech, ' I have so longed to see you. It seemed 
to me in that awful pain that I must die before I could 
gather my thoughts together once more, before I could 
get free enough from my own wretched self to say to 
my two dear ones all I wished to say. But now it is 
all gone, and I am so thankful for this moment of peace. 
I made Dr. de Chavannes tell me the whole truth. 
Paul and I have always promised one another that 
there should never be any concealment between us 
when either of us came to die, and I think I shall have 
a few hours more with you/ 

She was silent a little; the voice had all its usual 
intonations, but it was low and weak, and it was 
necessary for her from time to time to gather such 
strength as might enable her to maintain the calm 
of her manner. Eustace, in bewildered misery, had 
hidden his face upon her hands, which were clasped 
in his, and every now and then she felt the pressure 
of his lips upon her fingers. 

'There are many things I want to say to you/ she 

went on. 'I will try to remember them in order. 

Will you stay with Paul a few days after ? will 

you always remember to be good to him? I know you 

[ 405 ] 


will. My poor Paul, oh if I had but given you a 
child !' 

The passion of her low cry thrilled Eustace's heart. 
He looked up and saw on her face the expression of the 
hidden yearning of a lifetime. It struck him as some- 
thing awful and sacred ; he could not answer it except 
by look and touch, and presently she went on after 
another pause : 

'His sister will come to him very likely his 
widowed sister. She has a girl he is fond of. After 
a while he will take pleasure in her. Then I have 
thought so much of you and of the future. So often 
last night I thought I saw you and her, and what you 
ought to do seemed to grow plain to me. Dear Eu- 
stace, don't let anything I say now ever be a burden to 
you don't let it fetter you ever but it is so strong 
in me you must let me say it all. She is not in love with 
you, Eustace at least, I think not. She has never 
thought of you in that way ; but there is everything 
there which ought to lead to love. You interest her 
deeply ; the thought of you stands to her as the symbol 
of all she wants to reach ; and then she knows what you 
have been to all those who trusted you. She knows 
that you are good and true. I want you to try and 
carry it farther for her sake and yours/ He looked up 
and would have spoken, but she put her soft hand over 
his mouth. 'Wait one moment. Those about her are 
not people to make her happy at any time if things 
went wrong if she broke down she would be at 
their mercy. Then her position you know what dif- 
ficulties it has it makes my heart ache sometimes 
to think of it. She won my love so. I felt like a mother 
[ 406 ] 


to her. I long to have her here now, but I would not 
let Paul send; and if I could think of her safe with 
you in those true hands of yours. Oh, you will try, 

He answered her huskily and brokenly, laying his 
face to hers on the pillow. 

'I would do anything you asked. But she is so 
likely to love and marry. Probably there is some one 

- already. How could it not be with her beauty and 
her fame? Anybody would be proud to marry her, 
and she has such a quick eager nature/ 

'There is no one!' said Marie, with deep conviction 
in the whispered words. ' Her life has been too exciting 

- too full of one interest. She stayed with me ; I got 
to know her to the bottom. She would not have hidden 
it. Only say you will make one trial and I should be 

And then her innate respect for another's individ- 
uality, her shrinking from what might prove to be the 
tyranny of a dying wish interposed, and she checked 
herself. ' No, don't promise ; I have no right no one 
has any right. I can only tell you my feeling my 
deep sense that there is hope that there is nothing 
against you. Men good men are so often over- 
timid when courage would be best. Be bold, Eustace ; 
respect your own love ; do not be too proud to show 
it to offer it!' 

Her voice died away into silence, only Eustace still 
felt the caressing touch of the thin fingers clasped round 
his. It seemed to him as if the life still left in her were 
one pure flame of love, undimmed by any thought of 
self, undisturbed by any breath of pain. Oh, this 
[ 407 1 


victory of the spirit over the flesh, of soul over body, 
which humanity achieves and renews from day to day 
and from age to age, in all those nobler and finer 
personalities upon whom the moral life of the world 
depends ! How it burns its testimony into the heart 
of the spectator ! How it makes him thrill with the 
apprehension which lies at the root of all religion - 
the apprehension of an ideal order the divine sus- 

' That we are greater than we know ! ' 

How it impresses itself upon us as the only miracle 
which will bear our leaning upon, and stand the strain 
of human questioning ! It was borne in upon Eustace, 
as he sat bowed beside his dying sister, that through 
this fragile body and this failing breath the Eternal 
Mind was speaking, and that in Marie's love the 
Eternal Love was taking voice. He said so to her 
brokenly, and her sweet eyes smiled back upon him 
a divine answer of peace and faith. 

Then she called faintly, 'Paul!' The distant figure 
came back; and she laid her head upon her husband's 
breast, while Eustace was gently drawn away by the 
nurse. Presently, he found himself mechanically tak- 
ing food and mechanically listening to the low-voiced 
talk of the kindly, white-capped woman who was 
attending to him. Every fact, every impression, was 
misery, these details so unexpected, so irrevocable, 
so charged with terrible meaning, which the nurse was 
pouring out upon him, that presence in the neigh- 
bouring room of which his every nerve was conscious, 
- and in front of him, like a frowning barrier shutting 
off the view of the future, the advancing horror of 
[ 408 ] 


death! Yesterday, at the same time, he had been 
walking along the sandy Surrey roads, delighting in 
the last autumn harmonies of colour, and conscious of 
the dawn of a period of rest after a period of conflict, 
of the growth within him of a temper of quiet and 
rational resignation to the conditions of life and of his 
own individual lot, over the development of which 
the mere fact of his sister's existence had exercised 
a strong and steadying influence. Life, he had per- 
suaded himself, was for him more than tolerable, even 
without love and marriage. The world of thought was 
warm and hospitable to him ; he moved at ease within 
its friendly familiar limits ; and in the world of personal 
relations, one heart was safely his, the sympathy and 
tenderness of one human soul would never fail him 
at his need. And now this last tender bond was to 
be broken with a rough, incredible suddenness. The 
woman he loved with passion would never be his ; for 
not even now, fresh from contact with his sister's dy- 
ing hope, could he raise himself to any flattering vision 
of the future; and the woman he loved, with that 
intimate tenacity of affection which is the poetry of 
kinship, was to be taken from him by this cruel waste- 
fulness of premature death. Could any man be more 
alone than he would be? And then suddenly a con- 
sciousness fell upon him which made him ashamed. In 
the neighbouring room his ear was caught now and 
then by an almost imperceptible murmur of voices. 
What was his loss, his agony, compared to theirs? 

When he softly returned into the room he found 
Marie lying as though asleep upon her husband's arm. 
It seemed to him that since he had left her there had 
f 409 1 


been a change. The face was more drawn, the look of 
exhaustion more defined. Paul sat beside her, his eyes 
riveted upon her. He scarcely seemed to notice his 
brother-in-law's entrance; it was as though he were 
rapidly losing consciousness of every fact but one; 
and never had Kendal seen any countenance so grief- 
stricken, so pinched with longing. But Marie heard the 
familiar step. She made a faint movement with her 
hand towards him, and he resumed his old place, his 
head bowed upon the bed. And so they sat through 
the morning, hardly moving, interchanging at long 
intervals a few words those sad sacred words which 
well from the heart in the supreme moments of exist- 
ence words which, in the case of such natures as 
Marie de Chateauvieux, represent the intimate truths 
and fundamental ideas of the life that has gone before. 
There was nothing to hide, nothing to regret. A few 
kindly messages, a few womanly commissions, and 
every now and then a few words to her husband, as 
simple as the rest, but pregnant with the deepest 
thoughts and touching the vastest problems of hu- 
manity, this was all. Marie was dying as she had 
lived bravely, tenderly, simply. 

Presently they roused her to take some nourish- 
ment, which she swallowed with difficulty. It gave her 
a momentary strength. Kendal heard himself called, 
and looked up. She had opened the hand lying on the 
bed, and he saw in it a small miniature case, which she 
moved towards him. 

' Take it/ she said oh, how faintly ! ' to her. It 
is the only memento I can think of. She has been 
ill, Eustace: did I tell you? I forget. I should have 
[ 410 ] 


gone but for this. It is too much for her, that 
life. It will break her down. You can save her and 
cherish her you will. It seems as if I saw you 
together ! ' 

Then her eyes fell and she seemed to sleep gently 
wandering now and then, and mentioning in her dying 
dream names and places which made the reality be- 
fore them more and more terrible to the two hushed 
listeners, so different were the associations they called 
up. Was this white, nerveless form, from which mind 
and breath were gently ebbing away, all that fate had 
grudgingly left to them, for a few more agonised mo- 
ments, of the brilliant, high-bred woman who had been 
but yesterday the centre of an almost European net- 
work of friendships and interests ! Love, loss, death, 
- oh, how unalterable is this essential content of life, 
embroider it and adorn it as we may ! 

Kendal had been startled by her words about Isabel 
Bretherton. He had not heard of any illness ; it could 
hardly be serious, for he vaguely remembered that 
in the newspapers he had tried to read on the journey 
his eye had caught the familiar advertisement of the 
Calliope. It must have happened while he was in 
Surrey. He vaguely speculated about it now and then 
as he sat watching through the afternoon. But nothing 
seemed to matter very much to him nothing but 
Marie and the slow on-coming of death. 

At last when the wintry light was fading, when the 
lamps were being lit outside, and the bustle of the 
street seemed to penetrate in little intermittent waves 
of sound into the deep quiet of the room, Marie raised 
herself and, with a fluttering sigh, withdrew her hand 
[ 411 ] 


softly from her brother, and laid her arm round h< 
husband's neck. He stooped to her kissed the sweet 
lips and the face on which the lines of middle age 
had hardly settled caught a wild alarm from her 
utter silence, called the nurse and Kendal, and all 
was over. 


THE morning of Marie's funeral was sunny but bitterly 
cold; it was one of those days when autumn finally 
passes into winter, and the last memory of the summer 
warmth vanishes from the air. It had been the saddest, 
dreariest laying to rest. The widowed sister, of whom 
Marie had spoken in her last hours, had been unable to 
come, and the two men had gone through it all alone, 
helped only by the tearful, impulsive sympathy and 
the practical energy of the maid who had been with 
Marie ever since her marriage, and was as yet hardly 
capable of realising her mistress's death. 

It was she who, while they were away, had done her 
best to throw a little air of comfort over the forsaken 
salon. She had kindled the fire, watered the plants, 
and thrown open the windows to the sunshine, finding 
in her toil and movement some little relief from her 
own heart-ache and oppression. l When Paul came 
back, and with numb, trembling fingers had stripped 
himself of his scarf and his great-coat, he stepped over 
the threshold into the salon, and it seemed to him as 
though the sunlight and the open windows and the 
crackling blaze of the fire dealt him a sudden blow. He 
walked up to the windows, and, shuddering, drew 
them down arid closed the blinds, Felicie watching him 
anxiously from the landing through the half-open 
door. Then he had thrown himself into a chair; and 
Kendal, coming softly upstairs after him, had gently 
[ 413 ] 


closed the door from the outside, said a kind word to 
Felicie, and himself slipped noiselessly down again and 
out into the Champs Elysees. There he had paced up 
and down for an hour or more under the trees, from 
which a few frosty leaves were still hanging in the 
December air. 

He himself had been so stunned and bewildered by 
the loss which had fallen upon him, that, when he 
found himself alone and out of doors again, he was for 
a while scarcely able to think consecutively about it. 
He walked along conscious for some time of nothing 
but a sort of dumb physical congeniality in the sun- 
shine, in the clear blue and white of the sky, in the 
cheerful distinctness and sharpness of every outline. 
And then, little by little, the cheated grief reasserted 
itself, the numbed senses woke into painful life, and he 
fell into broken musings on the past, or into a bitter 
wonder over the precarious tenure by which men hold 
those good things whereon, so long as they are still 
their own, they are so quick to rear an edifice of op- 
timist philosophy. A week before, his sister's affection 
had been to him the one sufficient screen between his 
own consciousness and the desolate threatening im- 
mensities of thought and of existence. The screen had 
fallen, and the darkness seemed to be rushing in upon 
him. And still, life had to be lived, work to be got 
through, duties to be faced. How is it done? he kept 
vaguely wondering. How is it that men live on to old 
age and see bond after bond broken, and possession 
after possession swept away, and still find the years 
tolerable and the sun pleasant, still cherish in them- 
selves that inexhaustible faith in an ideal something 
[ 414 ] 


which supplies from century to century the invincible 
motive power of the race? 

Presently by virtue of long critical and philosoph- 
ical habit his mind brought itself to bear more and 
more steadily upon his own position ; he stepped back, 
as it were, from himself and became his own spectator. 
The introspective temper was not common with him ; 
his mind was naturally turned outward towards 
other people, towards books, towards intellectual in- 
terests. But self-study had had its charm for him of 
late, and, amongst other things, it was now plain to 
him that up to the moment of his first meeting with 
Isabel Bretherton his life had been mostly that of an 
onlooker a bystander. Society, old and new, men 
and women of the past and of the present, the speculat- 
ive achievements of other times and of his own, - 
these had constituted a sort of vast drama before his 
eyes, which he had watched and studied with an ever- 
living curiosity. But his interest in his particular role 
had been comparatively weak, and in analysing other 
individualities he had run some risk of losing his own. 

Then love came by, and the half-dormant personal- 
ity within him had been seized upon and roused, little 
by little, into a glowing, although a repressed and hid- 
den energy. He had learnt in his own person what it 
means to crave, to thirst, to want. And now, grief had 
followed and had pinned him more closely than ever to 
his special little part in the human spectacle. The old 
loftiness, the old placidity of mood, were gone. He 
had loved, and lost, and despaired. Beside those great 
experiences how trivial and evanescent seemed all the 
interests of the life that went before them ! He looked 
[ 415 ] 


back over his intercourse with Isabel Bretherton, and 
the points upon which it had turned seemed so remote 
from him, so insignificant, that for the moment he 
could hardly realise them. The artistic and aesthetic 
questions which had seemed to him so vital six months 
before had faded almost out of view in the fierce neigh- 
bourhood of sorrow and passion. His first relation to 
her had been that of one who knows to one who is 
ignorant ; but that puny link had dropped, and he was 
going to meet her now, fresh from the presence of 
death, loving her as a man loves a woman, and claim- 
ing from her nothing but pity for his grief, balm for 
his wound, the answer of human tenderness to 
human need. 

How strange and sad that she should be still in 
ignorance of his loss and hers ! In the early morning 
after Marie's death, when he woke up from a few heavy 
hours of sleep, his mind had been full of her. How was 
the news to be broken to her? He himself did not feel 
that he could leave his brother-in-law. There was 
a strong regard and sympathy between them ; and his 
presence in the house of mourning would undoubt- 
edly be useful to Paul for a while ; besides, there were 
Marie's words 'Will you stay with him a few days 
after ?' which were binding on him. He must 
write, then ; but it was only to be hoped that no news- 
paper would bring her the news before his letter could 

However, as the day wore on, Paul came noiselessly 
out of the quiet room where the white shrouded form 
seemed still to spread a tender presence round it, and 
said to Eustace with dry, piteous lips : 
[ 416 ] 


' I have remembered Miss Bretherton ; you must go 
to her to-morrow, after the funeral.' 

'I can't bear the thought of leaving you/ said Ken- 
dal, laying a brotherly hand on his shoulder. ' Let me 
write to-day/ 

Paul shook his head. 'She has been ill. Any way 
it will be a great shock ; but if you go it will be better/ 

Kendal resisted a little more, but it seemed as if 
Marie's motherly carefulness over the bright creature 
who had charmed her had passed into Paul. He was 
saying what Marie would have said, taking thought 
as she would have taken it for one she loved, and it 
was settled as he wished. 

When his long pacing in the Champs Elyse*es was 
over, Kendal went back to find Paul busy with his 
wife's letters and trinkets, turning them over with a 
look of shivering forlornness, as though the thought 
of the uncompanioned lifetime to come were already 
closing upon him like some deadly chill in the air. Be- 
side him lay two miniature cases open; one of them 
was the case which Eustace had received from his 
sister's hand on the afternoon before her death, and 
both of them contained identical portraits of Marie in 
her first brilliant womanhood. 

'Do you remember them?' Paul said, in his husky 
voice, pointing them out to him. 'They were done 
when you were at college and she was twenty-three. 
Your mother had two taken one for herself and one 
for your old aunt Marion. Your mother left me hers 
when she died, and your aunt's copy of it came back 
to us last year. Tell Miss Bretherton its history. She 
will prize it. It is the best picture still.' 


Kendal made a sign of assent and took the case. 
Paul rose and stood beside him, mechanically spread- 
ing out his hands to the fire. 

'To-morrow, as soon as you are gone, I shall go off 
to Italy. There are some little places in the south near 
Naples that she was very fond of. I shall stay about 
there for a while. As soon as I feel I can, I shall come 
back to the Senate and my work. It is the only thing 
left me, she was so keen about it.' His voice sank 
into a whisper, and a long silence fell upon them. 
Women in moments of sorrow have the outlet of tears 
and caresses; men's great refuge is silence; but the 
silence may be charged with sympathy and the com- 
fort of a shared grief. It was so in this case. 

The afternoon light was fading, and Kendal was 
about to rise and make some necessary preparations 
for his journey, when Paul detained him, looking up at 
him with sunken eyes which seemed to carry in them 
all the history of the two nights just past. 'Will you 
ever ask her what Marie wished?' The tone was the 
even and passionless tone of one who for the moment 
feels none of the ordinary embarrassments of inter- 
course ; Kendal met it with the same directness. 

' Some day I shall ask her, or at least I shall let her 
know; but it will be no use.' 

Paul shook his head, but whether in protest or agree- 
ment Kendal could hardly tell. Then he went back to 
his task of sorting the letters, and let the matter drop. 
It seemed as if he were scarcely capable of taking 
an interest in it for its own sake, but simply as a wish, 
a charge of Marie's. 

Kendal parted from him in the evening with an 


aching heart, and was haunted for hours by the mem- 
ory of the desolate figure returning slowly into the 
empty house, and by a sharp prevision of all the lonely 
nights and the uncomforted morrows which lay before 
the stricken man. 

But, as Paris receded farther and farther behind 
him, and the sea drew nearer, and the shores of the 
country which held Isabel Bretherton, it was but 
natural that even the grip upon him of this terrible 
and startling calamity should relax a little, and that 
he should realise himself as a man seeking the adored 
woman, his veins still beating with the currents of 
youth, and the great unguessed future still before him. 
He had left Marie in the grave, and his life would bear 
the scar of that loss for ever. But Isabel Bretherton 
was still among the living, the warm, the beautiful, 
and every mile brought him nearer to the electric joy 
of her presence. He took a sad strange pleasure in 
making the contrast between the one picture and the 
other as vivid as possible. Death and silence on the 
one side oh, how true and how irreparable ! But on 
the other, he forced on his imagination till it drew for 
him an image of youth and beauty so glowing that it 
almost charmed the sting out of his grief. The English 
paper which he succeeded in getting at Calais con- 
tained the announcement: 'Miss Bretherton has, we 
are glad to say, completely recovered from the effects 
of the fainting fit which so much alarmed the audience 
at the Calliope last week. She was able to play Elvira 
as usual last night, and was greeted by a large and 
sympathetic house/ He read it, and turned the page 
hastily, as if what the paragraph suggested was wholly 
[ 419 ] 


distasteful to him. He refused altogether to think of 
her as weak or suffering ; he shrank from his own past 
misgivings, his own prophecies about her. The world 
would be a mere dark prison-house if her bright beauty 
were overclouded ! She was not made for death, and 
she should stand to him as the image of all that escapes 
and resists and defies that tyrant of our years, and pain, 
his instrument and herald. 

He reached London in the midst of a rainy fog. The 
endless black streets stretched before him in the dreary 
December morning like so many roads into the nether 
regions; the gas-lamps scattered an unseasonable light 
through the rain and fog; it was the quintessence of 
murky, cheerless winter. 

He reached his own rooms, and found his man up 
and waiting for him, and a meal ready. It was but 
three days since he had been last there; the open tele- 
gram was still lying on the table. One of his first acts 
was to put it hastily out of sight. Over his breakfast 
he planned his embassy to Miss Bretherton. The best 
time to find her alone, he imagined, would be about 
midday, and in the interval he would put his books 
and papers to rights. They lay scattered about - 
books, proofs, and manuscript. As his orderly hands 
went to work upon them, he was conscious that he had 
never been so remote from all that they represented. 
But his nature was faithful and tenacious, and under 
the outward sense of detachment there was an inward 
promise of return. 'I will come back to you/ seemed 
to be the cry of his thought. ' You shall be my only 
friends. But first I must see her, and all my heart is 

[ 420 ] 


The morning dragged away, and at half-past eleven 
he went out, carrying the little case with him. As he 
stood outside the Bayswater house, in which she had 
settled for the winter, he realised that he had never yet 
been under her roof, never yet seen her at home. It 
was his own fault. She had asked him in her gracious 
way, on the first night of Elvira, to come and see her. 
But, instead of doing so, he had buried himself in his 
Surrey lodging, striving to bring the sober and austere 
influences of the country to bear upon the feverish 
indecision of his mood. Perhaps his disappearance and 
silence had wounded her; after all, he knew that he 
had some place in her thoughts. 

The servant who opened the door demurred to his 
request to see Miss Bretherton. * The doctor says, sir, 
that at home she must keep quiet; she has not seen 
any visitors just lately/ But Kendal persisted, and 
his card was taken in, while he waited the result. 
The servant hurried along the ground-floor passage, 
knocked at the door at the farther end, went in for a 
moment, and came out beckoning to him. He obeyed 
with a beating heart, and she threw open the door for 

Inside stood Isabel Bretherton, with eager surprise 
and pleasure in her whole attitude. She had just risen 
from her chair, and was coming forward ; a soft white 
cashmere shawl hung around her; her dress, of some 
dark rich stuff, fell with the flowing, stately lines 
peculiar to it; her face was slightly flushed, and the 
brilliancy of her colour, of her hair, of her white, out- 
stretched hand, seemed to Kendal to take all the chill 
and gloom out of the winter air. She held some proof- 
[ 421 ] 


sheets of a new play in her hand, and the rest lay piled 
beside her on a little table. 

'How kind of you, Mr. Kendal/ she said, advancing 
with her quick impulsive step towards him. ' I thought 
you had forgotten us, and I have been wanting your 
advice so badly! I have just been complaining of 
you a little in a letter to Madame de Chateauvieux ! 
She ' 

Then she suddenly stopped, checked and startled by 
his face. He was always colourless and thin, but the 
two nights he had just passed through had given him 
an expression of haggard exhaustion. His black eye 
seemed to have lost the keenness which was so remark- 
able in them, and his prematurely grey hair gave him 
almost a look of age in spite of the lightness and pli- 
ancy of the figure. 

He came forward, and took her hand nervously and 
closely in his own. 

' I have come to bring you sad news/ he said gently, 
and seeking anxiously word by word how he might 
soften what, after all, could not be softened. 'M. de 
Chateauvieux sent me to you at once, that you should 
not hear in any other way. But it must be a shock to 
you for you loved her ! ' 

' Oh ! ' she cried, interrupting him, speaking in short, 
gasping words, and answering not so much his words as 
his look. ' She is ill she is in danger something 
has happened?' 

'I was summoned on Wednesday/ said Kendal, 
helpless after all in the grip of the truth which would 
not be managed or controlled. 'When I got there she 
had been two days ill and there was no hope/ 
[ 422 ] 


He paused; her eyes of agonised questioning im- 
plored him to go on. ' I was with her six hours - 
after I came she had no pain it was quite peaceful, 
and she died in the evening/ 

She had been watching him open-eyed, every vestige 
of colour fading from cheek and lip ; when he stopped, 
she gave a little cry. He let go her hand, and she sank 
into a chair near, so white and breathless that he was 

' Shall I get you water shall I ring? ' he asked after 
a moment or two, bending over her. 

'No/ she whispered with difficulty; 'let me alone 
just for a minute/ 

He left her side, and stood leaning against the 
mantelpiece, waiting anxiously. She struggled against 
the physical oppression which had seized upon her, and 
fought it down bravely. But he noticed with a pang, 
now that the flush was gone, that she looked fragile 
and worn, and, as his thought went back for a moment 
to the Surrey Sunday and her young rounded beauty 
among the spring green, he could have cried out in 
useless rebellion against the unyielding physical con- 
ditions which press upon and imprison the flame of 

At last the faintness passed off, and she sat up, her 
hands clasped round her knees, and the tears running 
fast over her cheeks. Her grief was like herself 
frank, simple, expressive. 

'Will you tell me more about it? Oh, I cannot 

believe it! Why, only last week when I was ill she 

talked of coming to me ! I have just been writing to 

her there is my letter. I feel as if I could not bear it ; 

[ 423 ] 


she was like a mother to me in Paris. Oh, if I could 
have seen her ! ' 

' You were one of her chief thoughts at the last/ said 
Kendal, much moved. And he went on to tell her the 
story of Marie's dying hours, describing that gentle 
withdrawal from life with a manly tenderness of feeling 
and a quick memory for all that could soften the im- 
pression of it to the listener. And then he brought 
out the miniature and gave it to her, and she accepted 
it with a fresh burst of sorrow, putting it to her lips, 
studying it and weeping over it, with an absolute 
spontaneity and self-abandonment which was lovely 
because it was so true. 

'Oh, poor M. de Chateauvieux ! ' she cried, after a 
long pause, looking up to him. 'How will he live 
without her? He will feel himself so forsaken!' 

'Yes/ said Kendal, huskily; 'he will be very lonely, 
but one must learn to bear it.' 

She gazed at him with quick, startled sympathy, 
and all her womanly nature seemed to rise into her 
upturned face and yearning eyes. It was as though her 
attention had been specially recalled to him ; as though 
his particular loss and sorrow were brusquely brought 
home to her. And then she was struck by the strange- 
ness and unexpectedness of such a meeting between 
them. He had been to her a judge, an authority, an 
embodied standard. His high-mindedness had won her 
confidence ; his affection for his sister had touched and 
charmed her. But she had never been conscious of any 
intimacy with him. Still less had she ever dreamt of 
sharing a common grief with him, of weeping at his 
side. And the contrast between her old relation with 
[ 424 ] 


him and this new solemn experience, rushing in upon 
her, filled her with emotion. The memory of the Nune- 
ham day woke again in her of the shock between her 
nature and his, of her overwhelming sense of the in- 
tellectual difference between them, and then of the 
thrill which his verdict upon Elvira had stirred in her. 
The relation which she had regarded as a mere intel- 
lectual and friendly one, but which had been far more 
real and important to her than even she herself had 
ever guessed, seemed to have transformed itself since 
he had entered the room into something close and 
personal. His last words had called up in her a sharp 
impression of the man's inmost nature as it was, be- 
neath the polished scholarly surface. They had ap- 
pealed to her on the simplest, commonest, human 
ground ; she felt them impulsively as a call from him 
to her, and her own heart overflowed. 

She rose, and went near to him, bending towards 
him like a spirit of healing, her whole soul in her eyes. 
' Oh, I am so sorry for you ! ' she exclaimed, and again 
the quick tears dropped. ' I know it is no common loss 
to you. You were so much more to each other than 
brother and sister often are. It is terrible for you/ 

His whole man was stirred by her pity, by the eager 
expansiveness of her sympathy. 

' Say it again ! ' he murmured, as their eyes met ; ' say 
it again. It is so sweet from you ! ' 

There was a long pause ; she stood as if fascinated, 
her hands falling slowly beside her. Her gaze wavered 
till the eyelids fell, and she stood absolutely motion- 
less, the tears still on her cheek. The strange, intoxi- 
cating force of feeling, set in motion by sorrow and 
[ 425 ] 


pity, and the unsuspected influence of his love, was 
sweeping them out into deep waters. She could hardly 
breathe, but as he watched her all the manhood in 
him rose, and from the midst of grief put forward an 
imperious claim to the beloved and beautiful woman 
before him. He came forward a step, took the cold, 
unresisting hands, and, bending before her, pressed 
them to his lips, while her bewildered eyes looked down 
upon him. 

' Your pity is heavenly/ he said, brokenly ; ' but give 
me more, give me more ! I want your love ! ' 

She gave a little start and cry, and, drawing away 
her hands from him, sank back on her chair. Her 
thoughts went flying back to the past to the 
stretches of Surrey Common, to the Nuneham Woods, 
and all she had ever seen or imagined of his feelings 
towards her. She had never, never suspected him of 
loving her. She had sent him her friendly messages 
from Venice in the simplest good faith ; she had joined 
in his sister's praises of him without a moment's self- 
consciousness. His approval of her play in Elvira had 
given her the same frank pleasure that a master's good 
word gives to a pupil and all the time he had loved 
her loved her! How strange! how incredible! 

Kendal followed, bent over her, listened, but no 
word came. She was, indeed, too bewildered and over- 
whelmed to speak. The old bitter fear and certainty 
began to assert itself against the overmastering im- 
pulse which had led him on. 

'I have startled you shocked you/ he cried. 'I 
ought not to have spoken and at such a time. It 
was your pity overcame me your sweet womanly 
I 426 ] 


kindness. I have loved you, I think, ever since that 
first evening after the White Lady. At least, when I 
look back upon my feeling, I see that it was love from 
the beginning. After that day at Nuneham I knew 
that it was love; but I would not acknowledge it; I 
fought against it. It seemed to me that you would 
never forget that I had been harsh, that I had behaved 
rather like an enemy than a friend. But you did for- 
get you showed me how noble a woman could be, 
and every day after we parted in July I loved you more. 
I thought of you all the summer when I was buried in 
the country my days and nights were full of you. 
Then when your great success came it was base of 
me but all the time while I was sending my congrat- 
ulations to you through my sister at Venice, I was 
really feeling that there was no more hope for me, and 
that some cruel force was carrying you away from me. 
Then came Elvira and I seemed to give you up for 

Her hands dropped from her face, and her great 
hazel eyes were fixed upon him with that intent look 
he remembered long ago when she had asked him for 
the 'truth' about herself and her position. But there 
was no pain in it now; nothing but wonder and a 
sweet, moved questioning. 

'Why?' The word was just breathed through her 
parted lips. 

Kendal heard it with a start the little sound 
loosed his speech and made him eloquent. 

'Why? Because I thought you must inevitably be 
absorbed, swallowed up by the great new future before 
you; because my own life looked so grey and dull 
[ 427 ] 


beside yours. I felt it impossible you should stoop 
from your height to love me, to yield your bright self to 
me, to give me heart for heart. So I. went away that 
I might not trouble you. And then' his voice sank 
lower still 'came the summons to Paris, and Marie 
on her death-bed tried to make me hope. And just 
now your pity drew the heart out of my lips. Let me 
hear you forgive me.' 

Every word had reached its mark. She had realised 
at last something of the depth, the tenacity, the rich, 
illimitable promise of the passion which she had 
roused. The tenderness of Marie seemed to encompass 
them, and a sacred pathetic sense of death and loss 
drew them together. Her respect, her reverence, her 
interest had been yielded long ago ; did this troubled 
yearning within mean something more, something in- 
finitely greater? 

She raised herself suddenly, and, as he knelt beside 
her, he felt her warm breath on his cheek, and a tear 
dropped on his hands, which her own were blindly and 
timidly seeking. 

'Oh!' she whispered, or rather sobbed, 'I never 
dreamt of it. I never thought of anything like this. 
But do not leave me again. I could not bear it.' 

Kendal bowed his head upon the hands nestling in 
his, and it seemed to him as if life and time were 
suspended, as if he and she were standing within the 
'wind-warm space' of love, while death and sorrow 
and parting three grave and tender angels of bene- 
diction kept watch and ward without. 


fltfoe fiitoettftbe 

U . S . A 

Ward, Mary Augusta (Arnold) 

The writings of Mrs. 
Humphry Ward 
c Westmoreland ed...